Snow tires and other deep lug passenger and light truck tires likely would not pass the proposed new federal safety standards as written and would have to be phased out of production, according to a number of industry sources.
At the center of the issue is the high speed endurance test, which is designed to evaluate a tire's ability to run safely at high speeds and under stress. This test is designed to keep problems from arising like those that led to the rash of Firestone Wilderness/ATX failures mounted primarily on Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicles.
Unfortunately, the sources said, the test likely would lead to the failure of deeper lug tires, like snow tires and certain light truck fitments, which are not designed to run at high speeds or in high temperatures.
In the high speed test, for example, tire makers would have to test their tires at speeds of 88, 94 and 100 mph, compared with the current standard's requirements of 75, 80 and 85 mph. The proposed new endurance test increases the required speed 50 percent, from 50 to 75 mph. It also increases the duration from 34 to 40 hours and distance from 2,720 to 4,800 kilometers.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association is drafting a comment on the matter which it intends to submit to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration before the June 5 deadline. Earlier, the RMA voiced the industry's concern about NHTSA's claim that the new regulations would make up to one-third of tires on U.S. roads today obsolete, and continues to be concerned about what the industry perceives as overly stringent standards.