Both the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and the Tire Industry Association (TIA) have petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for changes in the new tire labeling requirements the agency promulgated last November.
NHTSA should allow flexibility in determining the placement of the full tire identification number (TIN) on the tire and should also allow greater leeway in the information provided on the vehicle placard, the RMA said in its petition for reconsideration. The European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation and the Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association echoed the RMA's objections in their own comments.
Meanwhile, requiring tire identification numbers on both sides of a tire will harm irreparably the already shrinking market for passenger and light truck retreads, TIA told NHTSA.
NHTSA issued the final tire labeling rule Nov. 18. As directed by the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, NHTSA designed the regulation to provide complete safety- and recall-related information to tire owners.
The RMA opposed the TIN-on-both-sides provision in the proposed NHTSA rule. Its requirement for placing the TIN on both sides of a tire would force workers to enter tire molds heated to more than 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
NHTSA alleviated the problem in the final rule when it decided to require the date code on only one sidewall, the RMA noted in its Jan. 3 petition. But the agency erred, the association said, in requiring the full number with date code on the ``intended outboard sidewall'' of the tire.
``Since the intended outboard sidewall is usually in the top half of the mold, the only way to comply with the rule and still eliminate the worker safety issue is either to flip the molds over in the press or to replace an existing mold with a new mold,'' said RMA President Donald B. Shea. ``Either choice is very costly.''
While TIA supports most of the tire labeling rule-especially the agency's decision to retain maximum inflation, cord material and ply information on sidewalls-it feels that requiring retreaders to mold the TIN on both sides of the tires will harm retreaders without helping motorists.
``There will never be a widespread recall of retread tires similar to the Firestone recall,'' said Becky MacDicken, TIA director of government affairs, in the association's Jan. 2 petition.
Because the retread market is small, Ms. MacDicken said, it is vulnerable to price fluctuations against the much larger new-tire market. The average mold-cure retreader, she said, estimates that having to mold the TIN on both sides will cost them an extra $2 to $5 per tire-enough to ``cause many retreaders to lose business and ultimately to close their shops.''