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Continental Tire North America, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Continental Tire North America (Continental) has determined that certain tires it produced in 2004 and 2005 do not comply with S5.5(f) of 49 CFR 571.139, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 139, “New pneumatic radial tires for light vehicles.” Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h), Continental 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 a petition was published, with a 30-day comment period, on June 14, 2006, in the Federal Register (71 FR 34414). NHTSA received no comments.

Affected are a total of approximately 2,627 model 235/55R17 99H Conti Pro Contact replacement tires manufactured during 2004 and 2005. S5.5(f) of FMVSS No. 139 requires the actual number of plies in the tread area to be molded on both sidewalls of each tire. The noncompliant tires are marked on the sidewall “Tread Plies 1 Rayon + 2 Steel + 2 Nylon” whereas the correct marking should be “Tread Plies 1 Rayon + 2 Steel + 1 Nylon.” Continental has corrected the problem that caused these errors so that they will not be repeated in future production.

Continental Tire believes that the noncompliance is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety and that no corrective action is warranted. Continental Tire states,

All other sidewall identification markings and safety information are correct. This noncompliant sidewall marking does not affect the safety, performance and durability of the tire; the tires were built as designed.

The Transportation Recall, Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act (Pub. L. 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 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 Start Printed Page 48581concluded 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 Continental'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 labeling requirements of FMVSS No. 139 and all other informational markings as required by FMVSS No. 139 are present.

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, Continental'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: August 14, 2006.

Daniel C. Smith,

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. E6-13778 Filed 8-18-06; 8:45 am]