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Notice

Coupled Products, Inc., Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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Coupled Products, Inc. (Coupled Products) has determined that certain hydraulic brake hose assemblies that it produced do not comply with S5.3.4 of 49 CFR 571.106, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 106, “Brake hoses.” Coupled Products has filed an appropriate report pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, “Defect and Noncompliance Reports.”

Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h), Coupled Products has petitioned for an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety.

This notice of receipt of Coupled Product's petition is published under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120 and does not represent any agency decision or other exercise of judgment concerning the merits of the petition.

A total of approximately 24,622 brake hose assemblies, consisting of 3,092 assemblies bearing Part Number 5478 and 21,530 assemblies bearing Part Number 5480 are affected. S5.3.4 of FMVSS No. 106, tensile strength, requires that “a hydraulic brake hose assembly shall withstand a pull of 325 pounds without separation of the hose from its end fittings.” The potentially affected hoses were manufactured using a “straight cup” procedure rather than the appropriate “step cup” procedure. Compliance testing by the petitioner of eight sample hose assemblies from two separate manufacturing lots of these hoses revealed that seven of the eight samples experienced hose separation from the end fittings at from 224 to 317 pounds.

Coupled Products believes that the noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety and that no corrective action is warranted. Coupled Products states that these hoses were shipped exclusively to EZ Loader, a manufacturer of boat trailers, the sole customer of the affected hoses. Coupled Products states:

Both Part Numbers 5478 and 5480 are utilized in specific boat trailer applications of a single trailer manufacturer. * * * [T]he routing and placement of the hoses on the particular boat trailers involved, and the shielded nature of the end fittings on those trailers are such that a linear, end-to-end “straight pull” on the hose assembly, such as that specified in the FMVSS No. 106 tensile strength test procedure, is unlikely to occur in real-world use. Because of the manner in which these hose assemblies are installed, rather than a “straight pull,” it is more likely that the free length of the hose itself could be entangled or caught on a piece of road debris or other obstruction, resulting in a “side pull” on the assembly. With this potential in mind, [Coupled Products] conducted a side pull tensile test on a sample of the subject brake hose assemblies to simulate the possible effect of a side pull on the integrity of the assembly. This was accomplished by creating special mounting fixtures and apparatus to the standard testing equipment. * * * The “side pull” test results show that the tensile load achieved prior to the ends separating from the hose exceeded 530 pounds in each of the five samples tested—well in excess of the 325 pound requirement.

Coupled Products further states:

We believe that it is likely that in order for such a [side] pull to occur, the debris or obstacle in question would need to be of such size and/or weight that its encounter with the trailer would result in significant structural impact and thus have immediate effect on the operation of the trailer. While we have not been able to devise a test that would verify this theory, we believe that this is a realistic scenario. As a result, it seems likely that the trailer would likely incur an operational impact even before the possible loss of braking capability resulting from hose assembly failure.

The axles used in the trailers in question are stationary. Unlike sliding axles that are used in some trailers, the axles used in these trailers are in a fixed location. Consequently, the possibility that the sliding movement of the axle might result in unintended pull on the hose is remote. * * *

Because the braking system on the trailer is independent of the towing vehicle's braking system, any failure of the hose assembly due to excessive tensile force—unlikely as that may be—will not result in a loss of braking capability of the towing vehicle. Thus, in the unlikely event of separation, the driver would still retain full braking capability of the towing vehicle and would be able to stop the vehicle (although additional stopping distance may be required depending on the type of vehicle being used).

Coupled Products states that in other cases NHTSA determined that a FMVSS No. 106 noncompliance is inconsequential where, because of the specific vehicle application involved, the hose assembly would not be subject to the type of forces specified in the standard. Coupled Product says:

See, e.g., General Motors Grant of Petition * * * 57 FR 1511 (January 14, 1992) (granting petition with respect to adhesion test noncompliance because, among other reasons, the “end use of the hoses was such that they were subject to pressure, not vacuum applications”), and Mitsubishi Motors America Grant of Petition * * * 57 FR 45868 (October 5, 1992) (same).

Coupled Products states it cannot estimate the percentage of the affected population that may be noncompliant, but the test results indicate that it is likely to be less than 100 percent. Coupled Products indicates that the problem has been corrected.

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments on the petition described above. Comments must refer to the docket and notice number cited at the beginning of this notice and be submitted by any of the following methods. Mail: Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Nassif Building, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001. Hand Delivery: Room PL-401 on the plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC. It is requested, but not required, that two copies of the comments be provided. The Docket Section is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Federal holidays. Comments may be submitted electronically by logging onto the Docket Management System Web site at http://dms.dot.gov. Click on “Help” to obtain instructions for filing the document electronically. Comments may be faxed to 1-202-493-2251, or may be submitted to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

The petition, supporting materials, and all comments received before the close of business on the closing date indicated below will be filed and will be considered. All comments and supporting materials received after the closing date will also be filed and will be considered to the extent possible. When the petition is granted or denied, notice of the decision will be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the authority indicated below.

Comment closing date: September 7, 2004.

(Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at CFR 1.50 and 501.8.)

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Start Printed Page 47485

Issued on: August 2, 2004.

Kenneth N. Weinstein,

Associate Administrator for Enforcement.

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[FR Doc. 04-17932 Filed 8-4-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4910-59-P