WASHINGTON (Feb. 16, 2000)—The latest U.S. Department of Transportation list of tire plants certified to have a DOT code—necessary for selling in the U.S.—contains 66 new codes, although only about 20 of them are for new plants.
Twenty-five of the new codes are for plants in China, most of them existing factories that have applied for the first time.
Bridgestone Corp. has the most new codes, nine, although three of them are for the same plant—the new Bridgestone/Firestone Aiken County plant in Graniteville, S.C. The three codes are assigned to the Bridgestone, Firestone and Dayton brands, respectively.
Two of the remaining six are additional codes for existing plants, while four are for new plants—in Poland (two codes), Thailand and Indonesia.
Michelin has been issued six new codes—three for its C3M plants in France and the U.S.—Continental A.G. four and Goodyear three.
The new codes bring to 743 the number issued since 1971, when the DOT program was initiated. Of these, 178, or 24 percent, are assigned to closed plants, plants that have never made tires, bicycle tire plants or retread factories etc. Officially, the DOT keeps codes for closed or sold plants in its active list for up to 10 years after a change occurs in order to cover the expected maximum life of tires in circulation. In reality, the agency has removed a code from its list on only a few occasions, and has changed only a few to new owners.
In addition, approximately 175 codes are duplicates for plants where more than one brand of tire are produced.
Obtaining a DOT code for a tire plant is a relatively easy process: A manufacturer needs only to request one from the DOT in writing on company letter head stationery and signed by a legal company representative. Thereafter, the DOT symbol may be molded on a tire´s sidewall.
The existence of a DOT symbol on a tire "constitutes a certification by the manufacturer and signifies that the tire meets all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard requirements," according to DOT documents.
A manufacturer is not required to test tires prior to implementing the DOT code, but any tire sold in the US is subject to random testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ensure that it meets all the minimum performance and labeling requirements as specified in FMVSS.
Tires found not in compliance with these federal standards will be recalled and be subject to civil penalties of up to $1,100 per tire, up to a maximium of $880,000, according to agency documents.
Anyone interested in checking a DOT code may do so at the agency´s web site: www.nhtsa.dot.gov/manufacture/ on the Internet.