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The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (Goodyear) has determined that certain tires it produced in 2004 do not comply with S4.3(e) of 49 CFR 571.109, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 109, “New pneumatic tires.” Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h), Goodyear has petitioned for a determination that this noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety and has filed an appropriate report pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, “Defect and Noncompliance Reports.” Notice of receipt of the petition was published, with a 30-day comment period, on October 8, 2004, in the Federal Register (69 FR 60459). NHTSA received no comments.

A total of approximately 3,793 tires are involved. These include approximately 1,075 Kelly Charger HPT 235/45R18 tires manufactured from May 18, 2004, to May 27, 2004, and approximately 2,718 Essenza 210 Type R 235/45R18 tires manufactured from July 15, 2004, to August 15, 2004. Paragraph S4.3 of FMVSS No. 109 requires “each tire shall have permanently molded into or onto both sidewalls * * * (e) Actual number of plies in the sidewall, and the actual number of plies in the tread area if different.” The affected tires are incorrectly labeled to state that there is one nylon ply in the tread area when the actual number of nylon plies is two.

Goodyear believes that the noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety and that no corrective action is warranted, because the mislabeling of these tires creates no unsafe condition. Goodyear states that the tires meet or exceed all applicable FMVSS performance requirements. In addition, Goodyear says that all markings related to tire service, including load capacity and corresponding inflation pressure, are correct.

The Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act (Public Law 106-414) required, among other things, that the agency initiate rulemaking to improve tire label information. In response, the agency published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the Start Printed Page 69028 Federal Register on December 1, 2000 (65 FR 75222).

The agency received more than 20 comments on the tire labeling information required by 49 CFR 571.109 and 119, part 567, part 574, and part 575. In addition, the agency conducted a series of focus groups, as required by the TREAD Act, to examine consumer perceptions and understanding of tire labeling. Few of the focus group participants had knowledge of tire labeling beyond the tire brand name, tire size, and tire pressure.

Based on the information obtained from comments to the ANPRM and the consumer focus groups, we have concluded that it is likely that few consumers have been influenced by the tire construction information (number of plies and cord material in the sidewall and tread plies) provided on the tire label when deciding to buy a motor vehicle or tire.

Therefore, the agency agrees with Goodyear's statement that the incorrect markings in this case do not present a serious safety concern.[1] There is no effect of the noncompliance on the operational safety of vehicles on which these tires are mounted. In the agency's judgment, the incorrect labeling of the tire construction information will have an inconsequential effect on motor vehicle safety because most consumers do not base tire purchases or vehicle operation parameters on the number of plies in the tire. In addition, the tires are certified to meet all the performance requirements of FMVSS No. 109 and all other informational markings as required by FMVSS No. 109 are present. Goodyear has corrected the problem.

In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA has decided that the petitioner has met its burden of persuasion that the noncompliance described is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, Goodyear's petition is granted and the petitioner is exempted from the obligation of providing notification of, and a remedy for, the noncompliance.

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

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Issued on: November 18, 2004.

Kenneth N. Weinstein,

Associate Administrator for Enforcement.

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1.  This decision is limited to its specific facts. As some commenters on the ANPRM noted, the existence of steel in a tire's sidewall can be relevant to the manner in which it should be repaired or retreaded.

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[FR Doc. 04-26103 Filed 11-24-04; 8:45 am]