WASHINGTON (March 1, 2002) – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its proposal for more stringent performance requirements for passenger car and light truck tires. Interested parties have 60 days to comment on the proposed standard.
The new standard, if approved, would replace the existing 34-year-old standard and would include provisions for aging, underinflation and road-hazard damage testing. The proposal also revises downward the allowable load range “to ensure that there will be an adequate reserve of load-carrying capacity in the tires,” NHTSA said in a news release.
The proposed new standard – Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 139 — would apply to all new tires for use on vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. Drafting new regulations were stipulated in the Transportation Recall Efficiency, Accountability and Documentation Act passed in the wake of the Firestone recalls of 2000.
“In developing this proposal, NHTSA placed particular emphasis on improving tires to withstand the effects of factors mentioned during the consideration and enactment of the TREAD Act — tire heat build up, low inflation, and aging,´´ said Dr. Jeffrey Runge, NHTSA Administrator.
“We have identified an array of amendments for revising and updating our tire standards and improving tire performance. Some would upgrade existing tests, while the others would add new ones.´´
The new standard proposes making performance requirements for car and light truck tires identical and requiring the vehicle load with three adult passengers not be more than 85 percent of the load-carrying capacity of the tires on the vehicle at the inflation pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, instead of the 88 percent currently required. This proposal is designed to ensure that an adequate reserve load-carrying capacity, NHTSA said.
The agency is proposing the standard be phased in either over two years, or three years – i.e., either by Sept. 1, 2004, or 2005.
Comments on the proposal will be accepted for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. Comments in writing can be sent to: Docket Management, Room PL- 401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, D.C., 20590. Alternatively, parties may comment electronically by logging onto the Docket Management System website at http://dms.dot.gov. Click on “Help & Information´´ or “Help/Info´´ to view instructions for filing. The Docket No. is NHTSA-00-8011.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association, which had lobbied for a minimum reserve load rule to offset the effects of the proposed tire pressure monitoring standard, was still studying the tire performance standard.