WASHINGTON-The General Services Administration has developed what it says is the first standardized testing program to evaluate off-road tire performance. ``There has never been a test before that weeded out the real off-road tires from the weekend 4x4 tires,'' said Kenneth L. Collings Jr., manager of the Federal Tire Program at the GSA Automotive Commodity Center, about the new Off Road Severe Application (ORSA) testing program for light-truck tires.
The ORSA program has been officially added to Federal Specification ZZ-T-381R, covering government procurement of light truck tires.
Interest in GSA off-road tire testing, from those who use the GSA tire supply schedule for procurement of tires, has been extraordinary, according to Mr. Collings. ``We've had a lot of calls from companies that we didn't even know used our supply schedule,'' he said.
The ORSA program began preliminarily last fall, with a GSA-funded pilot test to determine test conditions, pass/fail criteria and the number of miles to run.
Two manufacturers supplied tires for the pilot test, and the joint committee of the GSA and the Rubber Manufacturers Association monitored the test and evaluated the results.
At the tire industry's request, the GSA followed up with a ``test the test'' run to ensure the ORSA test's accuracy, according to Mr. Collings. This run involved a Bridgestone control tire from the earlier test and a test candidate tire with which the GSA had had problems in severe off-road environments.
``The control tire performed in accordance with the pass criteria in the specification,'' he said. ``The test candidate experienced severe anomalies and failed to pass the test by a wide margin when compared to the control tire. No doubt-the test works.''
Total costs for each ORSA test are approximately $10,354, including routine administrative fees and the cost of three control tires, according to Mr. Collings. Several tire companies have already contacted the GSA about submitting tires for the test, although no tests as yet have been scheduled.
``This test will really benefit both the industry and the user,'' Mr. Collings said. ``Self-certification only goes so far, but for a company to say its off-road tires have qualified under government testing will be a real selling point.''