Tire makers are generally pleased with their first reading of the new final rule from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, setting forth terms under which tire, auto and auto parts manufacturers may have to accelerate product safety recalls.
They are, however, withholding final judgment until they can digest the rule. Some haven't rejected the possibility of a petition for reconsideration.
The new rule is the latest to be issued under the aegis of the Transportation Recall Efficiency, Accountability and Documentation Act. Published in the Dec. 5 Federal Register, the bill sets forth the conditions under which the agency may order a manufacturer to speed up a remedial program to repair or replace defective tires or parts.
Basically, NHTSA may order an accelerated remedy if:
* It determines that a manufacturer's remedial program won't be completed ``within a reasonable time;''
* Motorists are at serious risk of injury or death if the program isn't completed quickly; and
* Expanding the sources of replacement parts, authorized repairs or both will effectively accelerate the remedy.
The effective date of the final rule is Jan. 6, and NHTSA will accept petitions for reconsideration until Jan. 21. During the comment period on the proposed rule, the Rubber Manufacturers Association suggested that NHTSA specify replacement tires of the same or higher load index and speed rating as the recalled tires they replace. Not to specify this, the association said, would compromise tire and vehicle safety, and NHTSA agreed to the specification.
Ann Wilson, RMA senior vice president of government affairs, said the association still is reviewing the document for any provisions that might be unworkable for tire makers. The Tire Industry Association also is reviewing the document, said Becky MacDicken, TIA director of government affairs.