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Tire Identification and Recordkeeping

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Tire Identification and Recordkeeping

Mark R. Rosekind
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
April 13, 2015


[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 70 (Monday, April 13, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 19553-19564]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-08418]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 574 and 579

[Docket No. NHTSA-2014-0084]
RIN 2127-AL54


Tire Identification and Recordkeeping

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The tire identification number (TIN), which must appear on 
virtually all new and retreaded motor vehicle tires sold in the United 
States, plays an important role in identifying which tires are subject 
to recall and remedy campaigns for safety defects and noncompliances. 
This final rule makes two amendments to the TIN. First, because NHTSA 
has run out of two-symbol codes to identify new tire plants, NHTSA is 
expanding the first portion of the TIN, previously known as

[[Page 19554]]

the manufacturer identifier, but more commonly referred to as a ``plant 
code,'' from two symbols to three for manufacturers of new tires. This 
amendment substantially increases the number of unique combinations of 
characters that can be used to identify individual manufacturers of new 
tires. Second, NHTSA is standardizing the length of the tire 
identification number to eliminate confusion that could arise from the 
variable length of tire identification numbers. This final rule 
standardizes the length of the TIN at 13 symbols for new tires and 7 
symbols for retreaded tires, making it easier to identify a TIN from 
which a symbol is missing.

DATES: This final rule is effective on April 13, 2015.
    Petitions for reconsideration: Petitions for reconsideration of 
this final rule must be received by May 28, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Petitions for reconsideration of this final rule must refer 
to the docket number set forth above and be submitted to the 
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New 
Jersey Ave. SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical issues, you may contact 
Chris Wiacek, Office of Crash Avoidance Standards, by telephone at 
(202) 366-4801. For legal issues, you may contact David Jasinski, 
Office of the Chief Counsel, by telephone at (202) 366-2992, and by fax 
at (202) 366-3820. You may send mail to both of these officials at the 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC 20590.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    In January 1971, the agency established a requirement in 49 CFR 
part 574 for a tire identification number (TIN) that must be labeled on 
one sidewall of each tire that is newly manufactured or retreaded.\1\ 
The purpose of the TIN is to facilitate notification of purchasers of 
defective or noncompliant tires. Furthermore, the information contained 
in the TIN may be used by consumers to obtain information about the 
tire such as the actual manufacturer of the tire (in the case of a tire 
sold under a different brand) and the date of manufacture. Part 574 
also provides for the registration of tires, including the collection 
of the TIN and the contact information of purchasers of tires, to 
enable manufacturers to notify tire owners of recalls.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ 36 FR 1196 (Jan. 26, 1971).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    From its adoption in 1971, the TIN has consisted of up to four 
groups of symbols. The first group of symbols identifies the 
manufacturer of the tire. Each individual tire plant has its own 
identifier; thus, one tire manufacturer may have multiple codes. 
Although part 574 has referred to this grouping as the manufacturer's 
identification mark, it may also be known informally as a ``plant 
code.'' For new tires, this code consists of two symbols, and for 
retreaded tires, the code consists of three symbols. This plant code is 
assigned to new manufacturers and retreaders when they contact NHTSA 
and provide contact information and information about what types of 
tires they are producing.
    The second and third groupings provide information about the tire 
itself. The second grouping is up to two characters and identifies the 
tire size. Although the original TIN requirement had a list of tire 
sizes and two-symbol codes, the agency has since left it to 
manufacturers to determine their own codes and provide decoding 
information to NHTSA upon request. This change allowed manufacturers to 
create new tire sizes without NHTSA first having to modify its 
regulations to provide a tire size code.
    The third grouping may be used at the manufacturer's option to 
provide any other significant characteristics of the tire. Except for 
cases in which a tire is manufactured for a brand name owner, the third 
grouping is not required. As with the second grouping, a manufacturer 
must maintain information regarding the code used and provide it to 
NHTSA upon request.
    The fourth and final grouping is the date code, which identifies 
the week and year during which the tire was manufactured. Although this 
code was originally three symbols, it has been expanded to four 
symbols. The first two symbols have always represented the week of 
manufacture. For example, ``01'' signifies that the tire was 
manufactured during the first full week of the year, ``02'' signifies 
that the tire was manufactured during the second full week of the year, 
and so on. The third and fourth symbols (originally only one symbol) 
must be the last two digits of the year of manufacture.
    The TIN is required to be marked on at least one sidewall of each 
tire that is manufactured or retreaded. Manufacturers must use one of 
30 alphanumeric symbols in the TIN. Certain letters such as G, I, O, Q, 
S, and Z are not allowed to be used because of the potential difficulty 
differentiating one symbol from another (for example, the number 5 and 
the letter S).
    Generally, the TIN must be molded into or onto one sidewall of the 
tire. However, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 139, 
which applies to radial tires for vehicles under 10,000 pounds GVWR, 
has an additional requirement that the other sidewall be labeled with 
either a full or partial TIN. A partial TIN excludes the date code and 
may also exclude any optional code, such as the third grouping of the 
TIN.

II. July 2014 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    On July 24, 2014, NHTSA published in the Federal Register a notice 
of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposing two amendments to the TIN. 
First, because NHTSA was running out of two-symbol codes to identify 
new tire plants, NHTSA proposed to expand the plant code, from two 
symbols to three for manufacturers of new tires. Second, NHTSA proposed 
to standardize the length of the TIN 13 symbols for new tires and 7 
symbols for retreaded tires.
    We received 13 comments in response to the July 2014 NPRM. 
Oyatullohi Maddud, Tire Rack, the National Transportation Safety Board 
(NTSB), Specialty Tires of America (Specialty), Gillespie Automotive 
Safety Services (GASS), Kojin Kitao, the Japan Automobile Tyre 
Manufacturers Association (JATMA), Safety Research and Strategies 
(SRS), the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), Zhongce Rubber Group 
Co. (Zhongce), the Government of Thailand (Thailand), the Tire and 
Rubber Association of Canada, and the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and 
Energy of the Republic of Korea (Korea). The comments are addressed in 
the following sections.
    RMA also requested an extension of the comment period in order to 
gather additional information regarding the cost of converting existing 
molds to three-symbol plant codes and 13-symbol TINs. We agree with 
RMA's general assertion that additional time would be necessary in 
order for them to obtain this information. However, the agency is faced 
with the exhaustion of two-symbol plant codes and must begin issuing 
three-symbol plant codes immediately in order to allow new plants to 
open. In order to issue three-symbol plant codes immediately, RMA's 
petition to extend the comment period is denied. However, we believe 
that our approach in this final rule, in response to RMA's and others' 
comments, mitigates the need for extra time to respond to the NPRM.

[[Page 19555]]

III. Three-Symbol Plant Code

    NHTSA, through its Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, issues new 
tire and retreaded tire plant codes to manufacturers when they apply 
for them. For new tire manufacturers, who have a two-symbol code, the 
entire supply of 900 plant codes has been depleted.
    In order to assign new plant codes, the agency has found it 
necessary to reissue previously issued, but currently unused plant 
codes. This shortage has arisen because of the increase over time in 
the number of tire manufacturers. This increase is projected to 
continue. However, a recent increase in the number of new plant code 
applications has completely depleted the supply of previously issued, 
but currently unused, plant codes. Without taking further action, the 
agency would be forced to refuse to assign new plant codes, which would 
make it impossible for new manufacturers to enter the tire market, or 
to assign identical plant codes to multiple manufacturers, which has 
the potential for substantial confusion and could impair tire recalls.
    To enable the agency to issue new plant codes, the agency proposed 
to change the two-symbol plant code to a three-symbol plant code. We 
believe that this is the best long-term solution to the lack of supply 
of new manufacturer plant codes.
    Oyatullohi Maddud, Tire Rack, GASS, RMA, Zhongce and Thailand 
agreed that NHTSA should begin issuing three-symbol plant codes to new 
tire manufacturers immediately upon running out of two-symbol codes.
    NHTSA has run out of two-symbol plant codes. Therefore, it is 
necessary to issue this final rule to allow the issuance of three-
symbol plant codes to new tire manufacturers. We are adopting the 
three-symbol plant code as proposed. For existing manufacturers with 
two-symbol plant codes, the agency will issue new three-symbol plant 
codes in place of each two-symbol plant code. For nearly all 
manufacturers, the agency will assign a ``1'' symbol in front of each 
existing two-symbol plant code.\2\ For example, a manufacturer using 
two-symbol code ``AB'' will likely be assigned the three-symbol code 
``1AB''.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ NHTSA will directly contact any manufacturer whose three-
symbol plant code is something other than a ``1'' in front of its 
existing two-symbol code.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

IV. Standardizing TIN Length

    The length of a TIN is not currently standardized. The second and 
third groupings of the TIN are required to contain no more than two and 
four symbols, respectively. Thus, the total length of these two 
groupings may be between zero and six symbols, depending on whether the 
tire is new or retreaded, and also on decisions by the manufacturer 
regarding the inclusion of optional codes. The third grouping is 
optional for all but non-pneumatic tire manufacturers, non-pneumatic 
tire assembly manufacturers, and tires manufactured for a brand name 
owner. Based on all of the variations in TIN length allowed, a full TIN 
for new tires may be anywhere between 6 and 12 symbols (which would go 
up to 13 after NHTSA adopts a three-symbol plant code).
    The nonstandard length of the TIN becomes more complicated by the 
TIN marking requirements in FMVSS No. 139. As mentioned above, FMVSS 
No. 139 requires a full TIN to be marked on one side of the tire and 
either a full TIN or a partial TIN on the other side of the tire. A 
partial TIN excludes the four-symbol date code and any optional code. 
Thus, a partial TIN may be as long as eight symbols (if a two-symbol 
size code is used and a four-symbol third grouping is used).
    Because both a full TIN and partial TIN could potentially be eight 
symbols in length, it may not always be clear whether an eight-symbol 
TIN obtained from one side of a tire meeting the requirements of FMVSS 
No. 139 is a full TIN or a partial TIN. The last four symbols in a full 
TIN representing the week and year of manufacture are always numeric. 
Nevertheless, we do not expect that everyone who records TINs for 
purposes such as crash reports or consumer complaints is likely to know 
the requirements for the various groupings of the TIN.
    The July 2014 NPRM proposed to standardize the length of a TIN for 
all tire manufacturers using the three-symbol plant code at 7 symbols 
for retreaded tires and 13 symbols for new tires. We believed that this 
would prevent any confusion regarding whether a TIN is a complete TIN 
or a partial TIN. The proposal allowed manufacturers that have 
previously been assigned a two-symbol plant code to continue to use the 
existing TIN grouping requirements until they begin using a three-
symbol plant code. We expected that manufacturers to begin using both 
the three-symbol plant code and the 13-symbol TIN at the same time.
    We received comments from JATMA, RMA, Thailand, and the Tire and 
Rubber Association of Canada regarding the length of the TIN. Tire Rack 
supported adopting a standardized-length TIN. The other commenters 
cited the development of a global technical regulation (GTR) on light 
vehicle tires. The length of the TIN in the adopted GTR is specified as 
15 symbols, including an 8-symbol manufacturer code. The commenters 
were concerned that the 8-symbol manufacturer code in the GTR is 
different than the 6-symbol code specified in the NPRM. Zhongce 
questioned the need for the standardized six-symbol manufacturer's 
code. Zhongce stated that they currently use five symbols for the 
optional code and questioned the need to add an additional character in 
existing molds.
    After the comment period closed, GTR No. 15 related to passenger 
car tires was adopted. A TIN is included in GTR No. 15. The TIN format 
in the GTR is nearly identical to the July 2014 NPRM, with one notable 
exception. Both the GTR and the NPRM include a three-symbol plant code 
and a four-symbol date code. However, the GTR has an eight-symbol 
manufacturer code, whereas the NPRM included a six-symbol manufacturer 
code. Thus, the total TIN length in the GTR is 15 symbols, instead of 
the 13 symbols in the NPRM.
    We are not making any changes to the proposal related to these 
comments. Although the GTR was not mentioned in the NPRM, we were aware 
of the discrepancy between the then-draft GTR and the NPRM at the time 
of the NPRM, but chose to propose a shorter manufacturer code to 
minimize the cost transitioning to the new TIN format. Although an 8-
symbol manufacturer code is included in the adopted GTR, we believe 
that a 6-symbol manufacturer code will reduce the costs of 
standardizing the length of the TIN. No tires currently sold have a TIN 
longer than 12 symbols. If we were to adopt a 15 symbol TIN, 
manufacturers would need to allocate space on the tire for at least 
three extra symbols (and possibly more). Based on the comments received 
from tire manufacturers regarding the expense of adding of at least one 
symbol to the TIN, we believe that the costs of adding at least three 
symbols to the TIN would be much higher. Therefore, we are not 
modifying the TIN length to expand the manufacturer code to eight 
symbols.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ RMA notes the inconsistency between the GTR and the NPRM and 
suggests that NHTSA propose to amend the GTR to be consistent with 
our final rule. This suggestion is beyond the scope of this 
rulemaking; however, we plan to request that the GTR be amended to 
harmonize with this final rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Moreover, we cannot agree with Zhongce's suggestion to allow the 
use of shorter manufacturer codes, thereby making the length of the TIN 
nonstandard. Making all TINs using a three-symbol plant code 13 symbols

[[Page 19556]]

long is necessary to ensure the identification of the manufacturer with 
the TIN. Existing TINs are up to 12 symbols long, but use two-symbol 
plant codes. If we allow manufacturers with three-symbol plant codes to 
use TINs that are 12 symbols or shorter, we will have no way of knowing 
whether the TIN uses a two-symbol or three-symbol plant code. Without 
knowing that, the manufacturer of the tire cannot be ascertained from 
the TIN. Thus, it is necessary for NHTSA to specify a 13-symbol TIN to 
accompany the three-symbol plant code.

V. Lead Time

    In the July 2014 NPRM, we recognized that, for existing 
manufacturers currently using two-symbol plant codes, immediately 
requiring the use of a three-symbol plant code and standardized TIN 
length would impose additional costs with little benefit. The NPRM 
therefore proposed to make the use of the three-symbol plant code and 
standardized TIN length optional for existing manufacturers with two-
symbol plant codes, beginning immediately upon issuance of a final rule 
implementing the proposal. NHTSA proposed that mandatory compliance 
with the use of the three-symbol plant code and 13-symbol TIN would be 
required beginning not sooner than five years after publication of a 
final rule implementing the proposal. NHTSA believed that five years 
would be sufficient lead time before manufacturers would be required to 
use a three-symbol plant code and 13-symbol TIN.
    Several commenters objected to requiring existing manufacturers to 
use a three-symbol plant code on the basis of cost and inconvenience. 
JATMA and Korea asserted that existing plants should not be required to 
adopt three-symbol plant codes because of their concern about the cost 
and time needed to upgrade existing molds and because they did not 
believe that there was sufficient space between the certification 
symbol and a ``1'' that was inserted before the plant code in an 
existing mold. Thailand asserted that products produced using a two-
symbol plant code should be allowed to continue to be produced using a 
two-symbol code because increasing the number of symbols would affect 
cost without improvement in quality. Specialty requested that limited 
production tires be excluded from any requirement to use a three-symbol 
plant code because of the cost of modifying those molds.
    RMA requested that NHTSA provide additional lead time and further 
requested that the comment period by extended for RMA to provide 
additional information on how much lead time they believed would be 
necessary to minimize costs to the industry. RMA stated that requiring 
existing plants to convert to 13-symbol TINs imposed substantial 
burdens on manufacturers not using all of the currently optional 
portions of the TIN. RMA also stated that the agency was incorrect to 
assume that the average life of a mold is five years.
    RMA suggested that, because NHTSA would soon exhaust the supply of 
two-symbol codes, NHTSA should go forward with the three-symbol 
manufacturer identifier and the standardized-length TIN, but consider a 
longer implementation period. In its comments, RMA and the Tire and 
Rubber Association of Canada suggested that a 10-year lead time is more 
appropriate. JATMA and Korea also asserted that a longer lead time was 
appropriate.
    Because of the immediate need for three-symbol plant codes, NHTSA 
must go forward with a rule allowing the use of three-symbol plant 
codes. Moreover, to ensure that plant codes for new tires are 
recognizable, we are moving forward with a requirement that 
manufacturers who use a three-symbol plant codes use the 13-symbol TIN. 
NHTSA continues to believe that eventual standardization of TIN length 
is valuable for ensuring quick identification of the tire manufacturer, 
for the reasons discussed above. However, in light of the comments 
received, we are extending the lead time from five years to 10 years 
for existing plants to adopt the three-symbol plant code and 
standardized 13-symbol TIN.
    NHTSA's proposed five-year lead time was based upon the assumption 
that the average life of a tire mold is five years. Past rulemakings 
related to tire labeling have offered five years of lead time or 
less.\4\ Moreover, our assumption was partially based upon RMA's 
comments on the adoption of FMVSS No. 139 and an NPRM proposing 
upgrades to truck tire requirements.\5\ However, the issues identified 
by the commenters suggest that the assumptions underlying NHTSA's 
assertion that manufacturers could replace or modify existing molds to 
use 13-symbol TINs with minimal costs may be outdated or incorrect.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \4\ See 64 FR 36807 (Jul. 8, 1999) (four digit date code); 63 FR 
28912 (May 27, 1998) (metric labeling on truck tires).
    \5\ See 67 FR 69600, 69608 (Nov. 18, 2002) (RMA comment that 
mold life expectancy is up to five years); Docket No. NHTSA-2010-
0132-0018, at 4 (comments of RMA on truck tire NPRM stating that the 
average mold life for radial truck and bus tires is five years).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Therefore, NHTSA has extended the lead time from the five years 
proposed in the NPRM to 10 years, as suggested by the commenters. We 
believe that this change, as well as others discussed below, will 
minimize the impact of this final rule on existing plants.
    To estimate the total cost of a 10-year lead time, we have used 
RMA's estimate that 20,504 molds would need to be modified at an 
average cost per mold of $957 (valued in 2014 dollars).\6\ We believe 
that RMA members represent approximately 62 percent of new tire 
production for the U.S. market and non-RMA members represent 
approximately 38 percent of new tire production for the U.S. market.\7\ 
We have assumed that the 20,504 molds that RMA members are required to 
modify represent 62 percent of the total molds that will need to be 
modified as a result of this rule, and that non-RMA members will need 
to modify 12,612 molds in order to comply with this final rule. Thus, 
we believe that 33,116 molds will need to be modified at a total cost 
of approximately $31.7 million.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ We believe that $957 per mold represents a high estimate of 
the cost of modifying a mold. Some molds may be modified simply by 
inserting new screw-in plates or a similarly uncomplicated process 
at substantially less than $957 per mold. However, in order to 
provide a conservative cost estimate, we will assume the cost per 
mold estimated by RMA.
    \7\ See Factbook 2014--Summary ed., Rubber Manufacturers 
Association.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Although only some molds will need to be modified to comply with 
this final rule, we expect that the costs of this rule will be spread 
out over all tires sold, not just tires manufactured in the molds that 
must be modified. Based on the data provided by RMA in its comments 
regarding the rates at which molds will be retired over a 5-10 year 
period, we have used a linear regression to estimate that nearly all 
molds currently in use today will be retired within 13 years. Given an 
annual average tire production of approximately 300 million, we believe 
that approximately 3.6 billion new tires will be produced for the U.S. 
market during this 13-year period. We expect that the $31.7 million 
cost of modifying molds could be spread out over all tires produced in 
this 13-year period.\8\ Thus, the average cost increase

[[Page 19557]]

of a tire as a result of this rule over the next 13 years is expected 
to be less than one cent ($0.009).\9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ We believe the costs can be spread out over such a long 
period, in part, because there is no gradual phase-in for existing 
plants. That is, all molds that need to be modified will not need to 
be modified until 2025. The only molds we expect to be modified 
during the first half of the 10-year lead time would be molds that 
are moved from one plant to another. Those molds would already 
require some modification under the current requirements and we 
would reasonably expect that the additional modifications to those 
molds as a result of this rule could be done at a relatively low 
cost.
    \9\ We have not considered retreaders in this analysis because 
we believe that the process by which retreaders label the TIN on a 
tire does not require modification of molds. We expect the cost of 
any modifications that retreaders may be required to make as a 
result of this final rule to be negligible.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

VI. Changes to Figures 1 and 2

    The July 2014 NPRM proposed minor changes to Figures 1 and 2 of 49 
CFR 574.5. For example, the new proposed Figures 1 and 2 included a 
requirement for a 50 mm blank space following the date code. We 
received comments from JATMA, RMA, Zhongce, Thailand, the Tire and 
Rubber Association of Canada, and Korea objecting to this requirement. 
RMA and the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada also stated that some 
Canadian tire manufacturers use the 50 mm space following the TIN to 
display Canada's National Safety Mark, and argued that this proposed 
requirement represented a barrier to trade that was not justified by 
safety. RMA noted that this change was not discussed in the preamble to 
the NPRM. Zhongce and Thailand also argued that the 50 mm blank space 
requirement may unnecessarily cause difficulties in tire design. Korea 
suggested that a 20 mm space requirement may be more appropriate.
    In light of the potential inconsistency between the proposed 
specification in Note 3 of Figure 1 that that there be a blank space of 
at least 50 mm (2 inches) after the date code and Canadian tire marking 
requirements, we have not included this specification in this final 
rule. Although we were concerned about the potential for confusing the 
date code with other information, we did not discuss this matter in the 
preamble of the NPRM and did not intend to propose it. Moreover, we 
have no data to suggest that any benefit to the public as a result of 
this change would be justified by the creation of a potential 
inconsistency with the Canadian tire labeling requirements.
    Separately, RMA suggested that NHTSA remove the 6 mm space 
requirement between the DOT symbol and the beginning of the TIN. RMA 
also requested that NHTSA reduce the minimum height requirement for the 
TIN to 4 mm for all tires rather than only for tires with smaller 
sidewall areas. RMA stated that these changes would give manufacturers 
additional flexibility to modify existing molds to include a three-
symbol plant code.
    We are not adopting these suggestions in this final rule. We 
believe that the specified minimum space after the DOT symbol ensures 
that the TIN is distinguished from the certification symbol. Moreover, 
we believe that the 6 mm letter height (which is currently the 
requirement for all tires, including those with shorter sidewalls) 
ensures readability and that the exception for smaller letter height 
should only apply to tires with shorter sidewalls.
    In contrast, Tire Rack suggested that the 6 mm minimum letter 
height size be maintained throughout the TIN, particularly the date 
code. Our response is that, for the tires for which the 6 mm minimum 
letter height requirement applies, that requirement applies to both the 
TIN and the certification symbol.
    Tire Rack also suggested that condensed fonts can be difficult to 
distinguish and included attachments with specific examples. Tire Rack 
suggested that NHTSA specify the use of bold fonts and prohibit 
condensed and lightweight fonts. However, having examined the 
photographs submitted by Tire Rack, we believe that the letters used in 
condensed fonts can be distinguished and that specifying/prohibiting 
bold, condensed, or lightweight fonts is not necessary at this time.
    Additionally, on the topic of fonts, we inadvertently proposed to 
modify Note 1 of Figures 1 and 2 regarding requests for the use of 
other fonts that are submitted to NHTSA. The proposal would have 
modified the language to specify that requests are submitted to the 
``Administrator'' rather than the ``Administration.'' Historically, 
NHTSA has considered the use of other fonts to be a matter of legal 
interpretation decided by the Chief Counsel. It was not our intent in 
the NPRM to reserve this authority to the Administrator. In this final 
rule, we are specifying that a petition to use an alternate font is 
submitted to NHTSA.
    RMA requested that NHTSA should continue to permit the use of print 
types that have previously been approved. Nothing in this rulemaking 
affects previously approved print types, although we have not attempted 
to list those types in this regulation.
    Zhongce suggested that NHTSA remove the specification for font 
type, or alternatively standardize the height-width ratio of the font. 
Zhongce argued that the specified fonts are not pleasant looking and 
manufacturers will want to use other fonts. We have not made any change 
in response to these comments. The specified fonts (and others approved 
by NHTSA) were chosen or approved for the ease of distinguishing 
characters, and the specification of font type has not, to our 
knowledge, had any effect on tire customers' purchasing decisions. 
Moreover, although the regulation does not specify the height-width 
ratio, we believe that the specification of fonts inherently specifies 
a height-width ratio for the characters. That is, if a manufacturer 
varies the height-width ratio for a particular font, it may not be 
using the specified font.
    Regarding the allowable fonts, we have discovered that the list of 
allowable fonts in Figures 1 and 2 has been inadvertently modified to 
specify that ``Future Bold, Modified Condensed'' or ``Gothic'' are the 
only two allowable fonts. However, the original font specification 
allowed four fonts: Futura Bold, Futura Modified, Futura Condensed, and 
Gothic. We have changed the location of the quotation marks and added 
commas to make clear in Figures 1 and 2 that there are four allowable 
fonts, not two.
    Kojin Kitao requested three clarifications regarding Figures 1 and 
2: (1) Whether the DOT symbol and the TIN, or the TIN alone, must be in 
the specified fonts; (2) whether the entire TIN can be laser etched on 
a tire as in the proposed Figures 1 and 2, or whether only the date 
code may be laser etched as specified in Sec.  574.5(d)(1); and (3) 
clarification on the location of the certification symbol and TIN on 
certain tires where it appeared that proposed Figure 1 had duplicate 
language. First, although the proposal stated that both the 
certification symbol and the TIN must be in the specified fonts, the 
version of Figures 1 and 2 in this final rule applies the font 
requirement solely to the TIN. We did not discuss this change in the 
preamble and did not intend the font requirement to apply to the 
certification symbol. Second, we intended to allow only the date code 
to be laser etched on a tire as specified in Sec.  574.5(d)(1). We have 
eliminated contrary language from Figures 1 and 2 suggesting that other 
information may be laser etched. Third, we recognize that the proposed 
language in Figures 1 and 2 regarding the location on the tire for the 
certification symbol and DOT code contains duplicate language, and we 
have corrected this duplication. These changes are reflected in this 
final rule.
    Tire Rack included two additional suggestions in its comments. 
First, it requested that NHTSA standardize the location of the 
certification symbol by allowing it only to the left of the TIN. Tire 
Rack requested that NHTSA eliminate Option 2 as depicted in

[[Page 19558]]

Figures 1 and 2, which allows the certification symbol to be located 
above or below the TIN. Tire Rack observed that it had not seen any 
tires using Option 2 and believes that its use in the future could only 
cause confusion. Second, Tire Rack suggested that the branding of TINs 
on tires should be limited to smooth locations on the sidewall and be 
prohibited from being branded over multiple background surfaces.
    We have not adopted these suggested changes. It was not our intent 
in this rulemaking to make substantive changes to the labeling of the 
TIN on the tire, other than to accommodate a longer plant code and TIN, 
and we consider these comments to be outside of the scope of this 
rulemaking. Moreover, we are concerned that these changes would 
eliminate flexibility for manufacturers without necessarily improving 
the ability of the TIN to be quickly understood in order to facilitate 
safety recalls.
    Zhongce and GASS also identified errors in the pictures depicted in 
Figures 1 and 2. Specifically, some of the dimension lines did not line 
up with the dimensioning arrows. These errors have been corrected in 
this final rule.
    We received suggestions from GASS and Tire Rack to specify required 
spacing between the three groupings of symbols of the TIN. We have not 
adopted this suggestion, because we are concerned that it will 
eliminate a cost-effective option for converting existing tire molds to 
a 13-symbol TIN. RMA has suggested that the modification of existing 
molds that are transferred to new plants will not simply involve the 
insertion of a ``1'' in front of the TIN. A mandatory minimum space 
between the groupings could prevent manufacturers from placing symbols 
between the existing groupings in order to use 13-symbol TINs on 
existing molds. We do not seek to impose costs unnecessarily; if this 
is a cheaper approach to achieve a clearly legible 13-symbol TIN, we 
would want manufacturers to be able to take advantage of it.

VII. Other Suggested Changes and Technical Amendments

    NTSB and SRS \10\ commented that the agency should alter the TIN to 
change the format of the date code. SRS requested that NHTSA use a non-
coded date of manufacture. Currently, the last four numbers represent 
the week and year of manufacture of a tire. The commenters did not 
specify, however, how NHTSA should require the date of manufacture to 
be presented on the tire.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ SRS also raised other matters in its comments. However, 
none of those matters are related to this rulemaking.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Given that we did not propose any changes to the date code portion 
of the TIN, nor did we discuss or request comment on any potential 
changes to the date code, such a change may be beyond the scope of this 
rulemaking. Even if it were in scope, however, we do not believe a 
change to the date code is necessary for consumers to determine when 
their tires were manufactured. NHTSA's tire consumer Web site, http://www.safercar.gov/tires/index.html, explains in several places how to 
find and interpret the date code. Furthermore, a person should easily 
be able to determine the location of the date of manufacture on a tire 
is located either by querying an internet search engine or by asking a 
tire dealer.
    NTSB and Tire Rack suggested that the use of partial TINs on some 
tires has not allowed consumers to have necessary information about 
their tires and requested that full TINs be required on both sides of a 
tire. This suggestion is beyond the scope of this rulemaking. We did 
not discuss or propose any changes to the placement of the TIN on one 
or both sidewalls.
    NTSB also suggests that NHTSA enhance the usability of TIN coding 
by requiring that any coding used by manufacturers be reported to NHTSA 
and be made public. NTSB particularly notes that the manufacturer, 
brand name, model, size, and date of manufacture be made available. We 
are not making the suggested changes. The information referenced by 
NTSB is already required to be marked on the sidewall of any tire 
certified to FMVSS requirements. We do not believe that safety would be 
improved by requiring this information to be additionally included in 
the TIN itself.
    GASS stated that in the first sentence of proposed Sec.  
574.5(a)(3) specifying marking requirements for non-pneumatic tires, 
the agency should specify that, instead of saying the TIN has to be 
placed ``onto one side of'' the tire, the agency should specify that it 
be placed ``onto at least one side of'' the tire. GASS reasoned that 
this change would be consistent with requirements for other types of 
tires. We agree, and we have made this suggested change.
    GASS raised other technical issues that we have not adopted. First, 
GASS suggested that proposed Sec.  574.5(b)(1) and (b)(3) be modified 
to make explicit references to Figures 1 and 2, as we have done in 
Sec.  574.5(b)(2). We do not believe this change is necessary. Second, 
GASS suggested that the list of authorized symbols in Sec.  574.5(f) 
has the letter ``I'' instead of the number ``1''. This is not correct. 
The number ``1'' was used in the NPRM. Third, GASS suggested that the 
list be modified to make explicit notations of the symbols that are 
letters and those that are numerals. We do not believe this change is 
necessary because the context in which the information is presented 
(alphabetical and numerical order) makes clear which symbols are 
letters and which are numbers.
    RMA stated that in proposed Sec.  574.5(a)(4) regarding the 
labeling of tires manufactured for mileage-contract purchasers, NHTSA 
incorrectly converted 0.25 inches into 13 millimeters rather than 6 
millimeters. We agree that this conversion was incorrect. We have 
included the correct metric conversion in this final rule.
    Finally, we sought comment on whether it is necessary to make any 
technical amendment to any of the tire labeling regulations in light of 
the proposed changes. RMA suggested several other technical amendments 
that were necessary. First, RMA suggested that NHTSA amend S5.5.1(b) of 
FMVSS No. 139, which includes language that allows optional codes to be 
excluded from partial TINs allowed on one sidewall of a tire. However, 
this final rule does not completely eliminate optional codes. Existing 
plants with two-symbol plant codes will be allowed to continue to use 
the old TIN format. Thus, it would be premature to remove the reference 
to optional codes in FMVSS No. 139.
    Second, RMA stated that the Early Warning Reporting (EWR) 
regulations in 49 CFR 579.26 contain three references that should be 
corrected. First, the general provisions specify that manufacturers 
located in the United States may report ``the two-character DOT 
alphanumeric code'' identifying the production plant. In addition, 
paragraphs (a) and (d) contain references to ``tire type codes'' which, 
under the new TIN format, would be the manufacturer's code. We agree 
that 49 CFR 579.26 requires technical corrections for consistency with 
the changes to part 574, and have included RMA's suggested technical 
corrections in this final rule.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ RMA also provided a list of non-regulatory changes that RMA 
believes are necessary to accommodate this final rule. RMA included 
suggested changes to the instructions for EWR reporting, the 
templates for EWR reporting, and potential changes to the Artemis 
database system. We will consider whether the changes to the EWR 
reporting instructions and templates are necessary. We believe that 
the Artemis database system is presently capable of accommodating 
three-symbol plant codes.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 19559]]

VIII. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

A. Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, and DOT Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures

    NHTSA has considered the impact of this rulemaking action under 
Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, and the Department of 
Transportation's regulatory policies and procedures. This rulemaking is 
not considered significant and was not reviewed by the Office of 
Management and Budget under E.O. 12866, ``Regulatory Planning and 
Review.'' The rulemaking action has also been determined not to be 
significant under the Department's regulatory policies and procedures. 
The agency has further determined that the impact of this proposal is 
so minimal as to not warrant the preparation of a full regulatory 
evaluation.
    This final rule will impose costs upon some existing tire 
manufacturers. New tire manufacturers would be issued three-symbol 
plant codes immediately and would be required to use the standardized 
13-symbol TIN. For these new manufacturers or existing manufacturers 
opening new plants, this final rule will impose at most negligible 
costs. Manufacturers constructing new molds for a new plant should be 
able to comply with the new TIN requirements at no additional cost. For 
existing plants, new tire manufacturers will be required to modify any 
molds still in service in 10 years to accommodate a three-symbol plant 
code and a 13-symbol TIN. As discussed in more detail in section V, 
above, we expect that, for existing plants, this final rule will result 
in a one-time cost of approximately $31.7 million to modify molds to 
accommodate a three-symbol plant code and a 13-symbol TIN. We estimate 
that this cost could be spread out over all tires produced over a 13-
year period, resulting in an increase in cost per tire of less than one 
cent.
    We do not believe that the safety benefits of this final rule can 
be expressly quantified, but we anticipate that these amendments would 
benefit the public in two ways. First, without expanding the plant code 
to three characters, the agency would need either to stop issuing new 
plant codes or to issue identical codes to multiple manufacturers. 
Either of these approaches could lead to confusion in the 
identification of the manufacturer of a tire, particularly those tires 
that are manufactured for another brand name owner. Second, the 
standardization of the TIN length eliminates the potential for 
confusion regarding whether a TIN is a full TIN or a partial TIN, which 
may assist consumers with identifying whether their tires may be 
subject to recall and may prevent crash investigators from recording 
partial TINs rather than full TINs on their reports.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996), whenever an agency is required to publish a notice 
of rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make 
available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that 
describes the effect of the rule on small entities (i.e., small 
businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions). 
The Small Business Administration's regulations at 13 CFR part 121 
define a small business, in part, as a business entity ``which operates 
primarily within the United States.'' (13 CFR 121.105(a)). No 
regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of an agency 
certifies the rule would not have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities. SBREFA amended the Regulatory 
Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a statement of 
the factual basis for certifying that a rule would not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    NHTSA has considered the effects of this final rule under the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act. I certify that this final rule will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. This final rule would directly impact manufacturers and 
retreaders of tires for use on all motor vehicles. Although we believe 
many manufacturers affected by this final rule are considered small 
businesses, we do not believe this final rule will have a significant 
economic impact on those manufacturers. We expect that many changes 
that need to be made by manufacturers as a result of this final rule be 
done during the normal mold replacement cycle at no additional cost to 
manufacturers. The new tire manufacturers that would bear the costs of 
this rule as discussed in section V, above, are not small businesses. 
Although some retreaders are likely small businesses, we believe that 
they can make the modifications required by this final rule without 
incurring significant costs. The process by which retreaders label 
tires with TINs is different than for new tire manufacturers. 
Retreaders do not label TINs on tires using tire molds; rather, they 
use smaller, less expensive means for labeling tires. We do not believe 
that this final rule would cause retreaders to modify molds, and we 
believe that any modifications to TIN labeling methods necessary to 
comply with this rule could be made at minimal cost.

C. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    NHTSA has examined today's final rule pursuant to Executive Order 
13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999) and concluded that no additional 
consultation with States, local governments or their representatives is 
mandated beyond the rulemaking process. The agency has concluded that 
the rulemaking would not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant consultation with State and local officials or the preparation 
of a federalism summary impact statement. The final rule would not have 
``substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between 
the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government.'' The 
agency expects that general principles of preemption law would operate 
so as to displace any conflicting State law or regulations.

D. Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    With respect to the review of the promulgation of a new regulation, 
section 3(b) of Executive Order 12988, ``Civil Justice Reform'' (61 FR 
4729; Feb. 7, 1996), requires that Executive agencies make every 
reasonable effort to ensure that the regulation: (1) Clearly specifies 
the preemptive effect; (2) clearly specifies the effect on existing 
Federal law or regulation; (3) provides a clear legal standard for 
affected conduct, while promoting simplification and burden reduction; 
(4) clearly specifies the retroactive effect, if any; (5) specifies 
whether administrative proceedings are to be required before parties 
file suit in court; (6) adequately defines key terms; and (7) addresses 
other important issues affecting clarity and general draftsmanship 
under any guidelines issued by the Attorney General. This document is 
consistent with that requirement.
    Pursuant to this Order, NHTSA notes as follows. The issue of 
preemption is discussed above. NHTSA notes further that there is no 
requirement that individuals submit a petition for reconsideration or 
pursue other administrative proceedings before they may file suit in 
court.

[[Page 19560]]

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), a person is not 
required to respond to a collection of information by a Federal agency 
unless the collection displays a valid OMB control number. There is no 
information collection requirement associated with this final rule.

F. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement 
Act (NTTAA) requires NHTSA to evaluate and use existing voluntary 
consensus standards in its regulatory activities unless doing so would 
be inconsistent with applicable law (e.g., the statutory provisions 
regarding NHTSA's vehicle safety authority) or otherwise impractical. 
Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards developed or 
adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. Technical standards 
are defined by the NTTAA as ``performance-based or design-specific 
technical specification and related management systems practices.'' 
They pertain to ``products and processes, such as size, strength, or 
technical performance of a product, process or material.''
    Examples of organizations generally regarded as voluntary consensus 
standards bodies include ASTM International, the Society of Automotive 
Engineers (SAE), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 
If NHTSA does not use available and potentially applicable voluntary 
consensus standards, we are required by the Act to provide Congress, 
through OMB, an explanation of the reasons for not using such 
standards.
    There are no voluntary consensus standards developed by voluntary 
consensus standards bodies pertaining to this final rule.

G. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) 
requires federal agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, 
benefits, and other effects of proposed or final rules that include a 
Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local, or 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of more 
than $100 million annually (adjusted for inflation with base year of 
1995). Before promulgating a NHTSA rule for which a written statement 
is needed, section 205 of the UMRA generally requires the agency to 
identify and consider a reasonable number of regulatory alternatives 
and adopt the least costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome 
alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule. The provisions of 
section 205 do not apply when they are inconsistent with applicable 
law. Moreover, section 205 allows the agency to adopt an alternative 
other than the least costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome 
alternative if the agency publishes with the final rule an explanation 
of why that alternative was not adopted.
    This final rule will not result in any expenditure by State, local, 
or tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million, 
adjusted for inflation.

H. National Environmental Policy Act

    NHTSA has analyzed this rulemaking action for the purposes of the 
National Environmental Policy Act. The agency has determined that 
implementation of this action would not have any significant impact on 
the quality of the human environment.

I. Regulation Identifier Number (RIN)

    The Department of Transportation assigns a regulation identifier 
number (RIN) to each regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of 
Federal Regulations. The Regulatory Information Service Center 
publishes the Unified Agenda in April and October of each year. You may 
use the RIN contained in the heading at the beginning of this document 
to find this action in the Unified Agenda.

J. Privacy Act

    Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments 
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78).

List of Subjects

49 CFR Part 574

    Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Tires.

49 CFR Part 579

    Motor vehicle safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Tires.

    In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA amends 49 CFR parts 574 
and 579 as follows:

PART 574--TIRE IDENTIFICATION AND RECORDKEEPING

0
1. Revise the authority citation for part 574 to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117, and 30166; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.95.

0
2. Revise Sec. Sec.  574.5 and 574.6 to read as follows:


Sec.  574.5  Tire identification requirements.

    (a) Tire identification number (TIN) labeling requirement--(1) New 
tires. Each new tire manufacturer must conspicuously label on one 
sidewall of each tire it manufactures, except non-pneumatic tires or 
non-pneumatic tire assemblies, by permanently molding into or onto the 
sidewall, in the manner and location specified in Figure 1, a TIN 
consisting of 13 symbols and containing the information set forth in 
paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(3) of this section. NOTE: The Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standards may have more specific TIN marking 
requirements for some tires. See 49 CFR part 571.
    (2) Retreaded tires. Each tire retreader must conspicuously label 
at least one sidewall of each tire it retreads by permanently molding 
or branding into or onto the sidewall, in the manner and location 
specified by Figure 2, a TIN consisting of seven symbols and containing 
the information set forth in paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(3) of this 
section.
    (3) Non-pneumatic tires and non-pneumatic tire assemblies. Each 
manufacturer of a non-pneumatic tire or non-pneumatic tire assembly 
must permanently mold, stamp, or otherwise permanently mark into or 
onto at least one side of the non-pneumatic tire or non-pneumatic tire 
assembly a TIN consisting of 13 symbols and containing the information 
set forth in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(3) of this section.
    (4) Tires for mileage-contract purchasers. Manufacturers or 
retreaders of tires exclusively for mileage-contract purchasers may, 
instead of meeting any other requirements of this section, permanently 
mold into or onto the tire sidewall in lettering at least 6 mm (0.25 
inch) high the phrase ``for mileage contract use only''.
    (5) Optional phase-out of two-symbol plant code. NHTSA will assign 
to tire manufacturers who were previously assigned a plant code 
consisting of two symbols a new three-symbol plant code to replace each 
two-symbol plant code. A manufacturer may continue to use a previously 
assigned two-symbol plant code until April 13, 2025. Manufacturers who 
use a two-symbol plant code must comply with paragraph

[[Page 19561]]

(g) of this section in lieu of the requirements in paragraph (b) of 
this section. Retreaders may also optionally comply with paragraph (g) 
of this section in lieu of paragraph (b) of this section until April 
13, 2025.
    (b) TIN content requirements--(1) Plant code. The plant code, 
consisting of three symbols, must be the first group of the TIN. The 
plant code represents the identity of the new tire manufacturer or 
retreader. The plant code is assigned to the manufacturer or retreader 
by NHTSA upon request. See Sec.  574.6.
    (2) Manufacturer's code. The manufacturer's code, consisting of six 
symbols, is the second group of the TIN for all new tires, but it 
cannot be used for retreaded tires. The manufacturer's code must be 
located between the plant code and the date code as shown in Figure 1. 
For new tires, the manufacturer's code may be used as a descriptive 
code for the purpose of identifying significant characteristics of the 
tire or to identify the brand name owner. For a new non-pneumatic tire 
or a non-pneumatic tire assembly, the manufacturer's code must identify 
the non-pneumatic tire identification code. Each manufacturer must 
maintain a detailed record of each manufacturer's code it uses with the 
corresponding tire size, tire characteristic, brand name owner, and 
non-pneumatic tire identification code as applicable and their 
respective meanings, which it must provide to NHTSA upon request.
    (3) Date code. The date code, consisting of four numerical symbols, 
is the final group. The date code must identify the week and year of 
manufacture. The first and second symbols of the date code must 
identify the week of the year by using ``01'' for the first full 
calendar week in each year, ``02'' for the second full calendar week, 
and so on. The calendar week runs from Sunday through the following 
Saturday. The final week of each year may include no more than six days 
of the following year. The third and fourth symbols of the date code 
must identify the last two digits of the year of manufacture. For 
example, 0109 means the tire was manufactured in the first full 
calendar week of 2009, or the week beginning on Sunday, January 4, 
2009, and ending on Saturday, January 10, 2009. The date code must be 
positioned as shown in Figures 1 or 2 for new tires and retreaded 
tires, respectively.
    (c) Retreaded tire mark. The symbol ``R'' must be used to identify 
retreaded tires, and must be marked at the time of TIN marking in a 
location specified in Figure 2. The ``R'' is not part of the TIN.
    (d) Method of marking. (1) At the option of the manufacturer or 
retreader, the information contained in paragraph (b)(3) of this 
section may, instead of being permanently molded, be laser etched into 
or onto the sidewall in the location specified in Figures 1 or 2, 
respectively, during the manufacturing process of the tire and not 
later than 24 hours after the tire is removed from the mold.
    (2) The labeling for a non-pneumatic tire or a non-pneumatic tire 
assembly must be in the manner specified in Figure 1 and positioned on 
the non-pneumatic tire or non-pneumatic tire assembly such that it is 
not placed on the tread or the outermost edge of the tire and is not 
obstructed by any portion of the non-pneumatic rim or wheel center 
member designated for use with that non-pneumatic tire in S4.4 of 
Standard No. 129 (49 CFR 571.129).
    (e) The DOT symbol. (1) The DOT symbol constitutes a certification 
that the marked tire conforms to an applicable Federal Motor Vehicle 
Safety Standard.
    (2) If required, a manufacturer or retreader must place the DOT 
symbol as shown and positioned relative to the TIN in Figure 1 for new 
tires and as shown in Figure 2 for retreaded tires.
    (3) The DOT symbol must not appear on tires to which no Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standard is applicable, except that retreaders of 
tires for use on motor vehicles other than passenger cars may, prior to 
retreading, remove the DOT symbol from the sidewall or allow it to 
remain on the sidewall, at the retreader's option.
    (f) Authorized symbols. The only symbols that manufacturers and 
retreaders are allowed to use in the tire identification number are: A, 
B, C, D, E, F, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, T, U, V, W, X, Y, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 
6, 7, 8, 9, and 0.
    (g) Old TIN content requirement. The following requirements are 
applicable to tire manufacturers who were previously assigned two-
symbol plant codes by NHTSA and to retreaders. A new tire manufacturer 
who continues to use a previously assigned two-symbol plant code in 
place of a new three-symbol plant code and a retreader may optionally 
comply with this paragraph instead of paragraph (b) of this section 
until April 13, 2025.
    (1) First grouping. The plant code, consisting of two symbols, must 
be the first group of the TIN. The plant code represents the identity 
of the new tire manufacturer and was previously assigned to the 
manufacturer by NHTSA.
    (2) Second grouping. For new tires, the second group, consisting of 
no more than two symbols, must be used to identify the tire size. For a 
non-pneumatic tire or non-pneumatic tire assembly, the second group, 
consisting of no more than two symbols, must be used to identify the 
non-pneumatic tire identification code. For retreaded tires, the second 
group, consisting of no more than two symbols, must identify the 
retread matrix in which the tire was processed or a tire size code if a 
matrix was not used to process the retreaded tire. Each new tire 
manufacturer and retreader must maintain a record of each symbol used, 
with the corresponding matrix or tire size, which it must provide to 
NHTSA upon request.
    (3) Third grouping. The third group, consisting of no more than 
four symbols, may be used at the option of the manufacturer or 
retreader as a descriptive code for the purpose of identifying 
significant characteristics of the tire. However, if the tire is 
manufactured for a brand name owner, one of the functions of the third 
grouping must be to identify the brand name owner. Each manufacturer or 
retreader who uses the third grouping must maintain a detailed record 
of any descriptive brand name owner code used, which it must provide to 
NHTSA upon request.
    (4) Fourth grouping. The date code, consisting of four numerical 
symbols, is the final group. The date code must identify the week and 
year of manufacture. The first and second symbols of the date code must 
identify the week of the year by using ``01'' for the first full 
calendar week in each year, ``02'' for the second full calendar week, 
and so on. The calendar week runs from Sunday through the following 
Saturday. The final week of each year may include no more than six days 
of the following year. The third and fourth symbols of the date code 
must identify the last two digits of the year of manufacture. For 
example, 0109 means the tire was manufactured in the first full 
calendar week of 2009, or the week beginning on Sunday, January 4, 
2009, and ending on Saturday, January 10, 2009. The date code must be 
positioned as shown in Figures 1 or 2 for new tires and retreaded 
tires, respectively.

[[Page 19562]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR13AP15.004


[[Page 19563]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TR13AP15.005

Sec.  574.6  How to obtain a plant code.

    To obtain a plant code required by Sec.  574.5(b)(1), each 
manufacturer of new or retreaded pneumatic tires, non-pneumatic tires, 
or non-pneumatic tire assemblies must apply in writing to the Office of 
Vehicle Safety Compliance, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20590, 
identify itself as a tire manufacturer or retreader, and furnish the 
following information:
    (a) The name, or other designation identifying the applicant, and 
its main office address;
    (b) The name, or other identifying designation, of each individual 
plant operated by the manufacturer and the address of each plant, if 
applicable;
    (c) The name, or other identifying designation, of the corporate 
owner, if applicable, of each plant;
    (d) The email addresses, phone numbers, and fax numbers for each 
person or corporation listed, including the main office; and
    (e) The type of tires manufactured at each plant, e.g., pneumatic 
tires for passenger cars, buses, trucks, or motorcycles; pneumatic 
retreaded tires; or non-pneumatic tires or non-pneumatic tire 
assemblies.
    Note to Sec.  574,6: Additional requirements for new tire 
manufacturers may be applicable. See 49 CFR parts 551 and 566.

PART 579--REPORTING OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS ABOUT 
POTENTIAL DEFECTS

0
3. The authority citation for part 579 continues to read as follows:


[[Page 19564]]


    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30102-103, 30112, 30117-121, 30166-167; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.95 and 49 CFR 501.8.


0
4. Amend Sec.  579.26 by:
0
a. Revising the fifth sentence of the introductory text;
0
b. Revising the first sentence of paragraph (a); and
0
c. Revising the second sentence of paragraph (d).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  579.26  Reporting requirements for manufacturers of tires.

    * * * For purposes of this section, the two- or three-character DOT 
alphanumeric code for production plants located in the United States 
assigned by NHTSA in accordance with Sec. Sec.  574.5 and 574.6 of this 
chapter may be used to identify ``plant where manufactured.'' * * *
    (a) Production information. Information that states the 
manufacturer's name, the quarterly reporting period, the tire line, the 
tire size, the tire type code or manufacturer's code, the SKU, the 
plant where manufactured, whether the tire is approved for use as 
original equipment on a motor vehicle, if so, the make, model, and 
model year of each vehicle for which it is approved, the production 
year, the cumulative warranty production, and the cumulative total 
production through the end of the reporting period. * * *
* * * * *
    (d) Common green tire reporting. * * * For each specific common 
green tire grouping, the list shall provide all relevant tire lines, 
tire type codes or manufacturer's code, SKU numbers, brand names, and 
brand name owners.

    Issued on April 3, 2015 in Washington, DC, under authority 
delegated in 49 CFR 1.95 and 501.5.
Mark R. Rosekind,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2015-08418 Filed 4-10-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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