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Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, New Pneumatic Tires; Consumer Information Regulations Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, New Pneumatic Tires; Consumer Information Regulations Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards

Christopher A. Hart
Federal Register
August 1, 1994

[Federal Register: August 1, 1994]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Parts 571 and 575

[Docket No. 93-81, Notice 02]
RIN No. 2127-AE70

 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, New Pneumatic Tires; 
Consumer Information Regulations Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards

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

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: This rule amends Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 
109, New Pneumatic Tires, and the Uniform Tire Quality Grading 
Standards, to permit the manufacture and sale of tires having a maximum 
tire inflation pressure of 350 kiloPascals (kPa) (51 pounds per square 
inch (psi)). Tires having a maximum tire inflation pressure of 350 kPa 
have reduced rolling resistance, which can increase the energy 
efficiency of vehicles. Today's rule permits the manufacture and sale 
of 350 kPa tires for use on all passenger cars, including electric and 
other energy-efficient vehicles. This amendment responds to a petition 
for rulemaking submitted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

DATES: The amendment promulgated by this final rule will become 
effective on August 31, 1994.
    Any petitions for reconsideration must be received by NHTSA not 
later than August 31, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Any petitions for reconsideration should refer to the docket 
and notice numbers of this notice as shown above and be submitted to: 
Docket Section, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 
Seventh Street, SW, room 5109, Washington, DC 20590. Docket room hours 
are from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:     Mr. Larry Cook, Office of Vehicle 
Safety Standards, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 
Seventh Street, SW, Room 5307, Washington, DC 20590. Telephone (202) 
366-4803.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    This rule amends Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 109, New 
Pneumatic Tires, 49 CFR Sec. 571.109, and the Uniform Tire Quality 
Grading Standards (UTQGS), 49 CFR Sec. 575.104, to permit the 
manufacture and sale of tires that have a maximum tire inflation 
pressure of 350 kiloPascals (kPa) (51 pounds per square inch (psi)). 
This rule follows a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published on 
November 8, 1993 (58 FR 59226). The amendments adopted today are 
substantially similar to those proposed in the NPRM, except that the 
NPRM would have limited the 350 kPa maximum tire pressure only to tires 
for use on energy efficient vehicles. This rule does not adopt that 
limitation.

Background

    Safety Standard No. 109 specifies requirements for passenger car 
tires for strength, endurance, high speed performance, and bead 
unseating resistance. In addition, the standard defines tire load 
ratings and specifies dimensions, maximum inflation pressures, and 
labeling requirements.
    Pertinent to maximum tire inflation pressures, S4.2.1(b) of the 
standard provides that for other than CT tires,1 tires must have 
one of the following maximum inflation pressures: 240, 280, 290, 300, 
330, or 340 kPa or 32, 36, 40, or 60 psi. The effect of S4.2.1(b) is to 
proscribe maximum inflation pressures other than the ones listed. Also, 
a manufacturer's selection of a maximum inflation pressure for a given 
tire has the effect of determining the pressure at which that tire will 
be tested for compliance. For each permissible maximum pressure, Table 
II of Standard No. 109 specifies pressures at which compliance tests 
will be conducted. NHTSA believes that limiting the permissible maximum 
pressures to the ones listed reduces the likelihood that tires of the 
same size and with one maximum load value but with two different 
maximum permissible inflation pressures will be installed on the same 
vehicle. Such ``intermixing'' of tires of different maximum inflation 
pressures can result in significant vehicle handling and stability 
problems.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\CT tires are pneumatic tires with an inverted flange tire and 
rim system in which the rim flanges point radially inward and the 
tire beads fit on the underside of the rim such that the rim flanges 
are inside the air cavity of the tire.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The UTQGS require motor vehicle and tire manufacturers and tire 
brand name owners to label passenger car tires with information about 
the relative performance of the tires in the areas of treadwear, 
traction, and temperature resistance. Table I of the UTQGS specifies 
maximum permissible inflation pressures for treadwear and temperature 
resistance testing, while Table 2 sets forth the multipliers 
corresponding to the tire's maximum inflation pressure for treadwear 
and traction testing. Both tables provide for a maximum inflation 
pressure of 350 kPa, but for CT tires only.
    The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) submitted a petition for 
rulemaking to amend Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS to permit a maximum 
inflation pressure of 350 kPa (51 psi). RMA stated that the additional 
inflation pressure of 350 kPa would contribute to the development of 
electric and other energy-efficient vehicles because of the lower 
rolling resistance of tires with higher inflation pressures. RMA stated 
that domestic evaluation of 350 kPa tires, as well as experience with 
such tires in Europe where this inflation level has been standard 
practice, alleviated any concern about tire intermix, that is, mixing 
tires inflated to 350 kPa with tires of lower inflation pressure on the 
same vehicle.
    NHTSA granted the RMA petition and issued a notice of proposed 
rulemaking (NPRM) on November 8, 1993 (58 FR 59226). While RMA did not 
suggest limiting the 350 kPa inflation pressure to energy-efficient 
vehicles, the agency proposed to add 350 kPa to the maximum permissible 
inflation pressures specified in Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS only 
for tires for use on electric and other energy-efficient vehicles. The 
basis for that limitation was information known by NHTSA relating to an 
earlier petition from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company (Goodyear).
    In that petition, Goodyear asked NHTSA to increase the maximum 
permissible inflation pressure of tires to 450 kPa (65 psi). At that 
time, Goodyear, in cooperation with General Motors and the Tire and Rim 
Association, was developing an ``E-metric'' tire designed specifically 
for use on energy-efficient alternative fuel vehicles. Goodyear 
asserted that the higher inflation pressure was necessary to enable E-
metric vehicles to achieve maximum fuel efficiency by reducing rolling 
resistance. During development, however, test data indicated vehicle 
handling and stability problems when E-metric and conventional tires 
were intermixed on the same vehicle, especially on conventional 
vehicles. Goodyear subsequently withdrew its petition.
    Because of Goodyear's experience with the E-metric tire, the agency 
expressed continuing concern in the NPRM about the tire intermix 
problem and observed that energy-efficient vehicles are still in the 
developmental stage, as are the tires designed for use on them. NHTSA 
further stated that such tires will require designs different than 
conventional tires already in use, such as ultra-low rolling resistance 
accomplished by higher inflation pressures, lower tire/wheel system 
mass, and reduced tire deflection. The agency expressed concern that 
the Goodyear tests showed handling and stability problems when E-metric 
tires were intermixed with conventional tires on energy-efficient and 
other vehicles. Thus, the agency proposed to permit 350 kPa as a 
maximum inflation pressure, but only for electric and other energy-
efficient vehicles.
    To permit 350 kPa tires for electric and other energy-efficient 
vehicles, NHTSA proposed amending the portions of Standard No. 109 and 
the UTQGS that directly or indirectly limited the maximum permissible 
inflation pressure of 350 kPa to CT tires. NHTSA proposed amending 
Standard No. 109's general performance requirements (S4.2.1) to include 
350 kPa as a maximum permissible inflation pressure, and the standard's 
Table I-C and Table II of Appendix A. Table I-C specifies minimum 
``breaking energy'' for radial ply tires (i.e., the resistance of the 
tire to bruise or damage due to impact of the tire with road hazards). 
Table II specifies the inflation pressure that NHTSA will use to test a 
particular tire to the various performance requirements of Standard No. 
109. Tables I-C and Table II currently specify values for 350 kPa CT 
tires. NHTSA proposed to use those same values for 350 kPa tires for 
electric and other energy-efficient vehicles.2
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\The NPRM also proposed to amend S4.2.2.2(b) of Standard No. 
109, to provide a metric conversion for an English unit used in that 
paragraph.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Similarly, NHTSA proposed to amend Table 1 and Table 2 of the UTQGS 
(49 CFR Sec. 575.104) to specify values for test inflation pressures 
(Table 1) and for the multiplier used for treadwear and traction 
testing (Table 2) for 350 kPa tires for electric and other energy-
efficient vehicles. The proposed values were the ones currently used to 
test 350 kPa CT tires.
    NHTSA received comments to the NPRM from petitioner RMA, Chrysler 
Corporation and General Motors Corporation. All the commenters were 
generally supportive of the proposal. RMA and GM opposed permitting 350 
kPa tires only for electric and other energy-efficient vehicles, while 
Chrysler said it could not comment on the issue.

Amendments

    NHTSA has decided to permit the addition of 350 kPa to the tables 
of Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS without limitation as to types of 
vehicles or tires to which it may apply.
    In its comment opposing the proposal to limit the 350 kPa inflation 
rate to tires for electric or other energy-efficient vehicles, RMA 
argued that the agency's concerns about tire intermix problems and the 
design modifications required for energy-efficient vehicles were all 
based on the development of 450 kPa (65 psi) tires and not on 350 kPa 
tires. RMA acknowledged that test data showed some handling and 
stability problems when 450 kPa (65 psi) tires were intermixed with 240 
kPa (35 psi) tires, but asserted that there were as many cases where 
the handling and stability of vehicles with such intermix were 
satisfactory. RMA argued that design modifications have routinely been 
made through the years to advance the state of the art, particularly in 
the areas of treadwear, traction, and temperature resistance, and 
asserted that conventional tires with conventional designs and compound 
characteristics are suitable for use at 350 kPa. RMA further stated 
that a large majority of the countries of the world have allowed 350 
kPa maximum inflation pressure, and that 350 kPa tires may also use low 
rolling resistance compounds. That is so common, in fact, that low 
rolling resistance compounds can be considered as conventional 
compounds.
    RMA submitted with its comments certain test data obtained from 
running a slalom course with tires from 3 different tire manufacturers 
using inflation pressures varying from 240 kPa (35 psi) to 350 kPa. RMA 
also attached test data from a test in which tires from 3 different 
manufacturers were tested in 18 different combinations of pressure and 
brand intermixing. RMA asserted that both tests showed that the 
intermixing of the different inflation pressures had less effect on the 
vehicles' handling and stability than changing from one brand of tires 
to another. In all combinations, however, vehicle handling and 
stability were considered satisfactory. RMA emphasized that the only 
test data that indicates any possibility of intermix problems involves 
450 kPa (65 psi) tires, and that there were no test data indicating any 
intermix problems involving 350 kPa tires.
    GM questioned the proposal to limit the addition of 350 kPa maximum 
inflation pressure to Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS to energy-
efficient vehicles. GM stated that the NPRM did not define ``energy-
efficient'' and stated that GM did not know how such a limitation could 
be applied without one. GM suggested, however, that reduced rolling 
resistance tires could offer fuel economy improvements to vehicles that 
are not normally considered energy-efficient. Thus, such a limitation 
might not be in the interest of increasing fuel economy in the nation's 
motor vehicle fleet. GM did not address the intermix issue with which 
NHTSA was concerned because of the lack of the necessary data.
    Based on the submissions of the commenters, NHTSA has decided to 
permit the addition of 350 kPa to the tables of Standard No. 109 and 
the UTQGS without limitation as to types of vehicles or tires to which 
it may apply.
    The agency was persuaded by the comments of RMA that the problems 
with handling and stability of vehicles due to the intermixing of high 
inflation pressure tires and conventional tires were based on the 
intermix of 450 kPa (65 psi) tires and not 350 kPa tires. RMA 
acknowledged that Goodyear encountered such problems when developing 
450 kPa tires, but correctly pointed out that there is no existing data 
tending to show any intermix problems involving 350 kPa tires and 
conventional tires. Indeed, the test data submitted by RMA with its 
petition indicates that no problem with the intermix of 350 kPa tires 
with conventional tires was experienced during the conduct of those 
tests. Rather, the tests showed relatively greater handling and 
stability problems with intermix of tire brands than with intermix of 
inflation pressures.
    Based on the RMA comments, NHTSA is satisfied that intermix of 350 
kPa tires with other conventional tires would pose no significant 
problem with vehicle handling and stability. Thus, there is not a 
sufficient basis for limiting the 350 kPa maximum tire inflation 
pressure to electric or other energy-efficient vehicles. Accordingly, 
this final rule approves the addition of a maximum inflation pressure 
of 350 kPa to Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS, without restriction as to 
vehicle or tire types to which it may apply. The proposed values for 
testing these tires are also adopted.
    The unrestricted approval of a 350 kPa maximum tire inflation 
pressure for Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS is consistent with another 
NHTSA initiative. The agency issued a Request for Comments, published 
in the Federal Register on April 25, 1994 (59 FR 19686), to explore 
ways to amend the UTQGS to make the UTQGS more meaningful to the tire-
buying public. One of the primary goals in that effort is the creation 
of a new category for rating tire rolling resistance in aftermarket 
tires.
    In addition, the President's Climate Change Action Plan, issued 
October 19, 1993, requires DOT, through NHTSA, to issue rules requiring 
manufacturers to test and label tires relative to their impacts on fuel 
economy through improvements in rolling resistance. The agency believes 
that that mandate can be implemented by a combination of tire compounds 
and increased inflation pressures in reducing rolling resistance, 
especially of aftermarket tires. NHTSA believes, therefore, that adding 
a 350 kPa maximum inflation pressure to Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS 
will be a step toward realizing the goal of improved rolling resistance 
and the corresponding conservation of the nation's natural resources.

Effective Date

    49 U.S.C. 30111(d) provides that each order prescribing a federal 
motor vehicle safety standard may not become effective before the 180th 
day after the standard is prescribed unless, for good cause shown, a 
different effective date is in the public interest. Since the 
amendments effected by this final rule provide tire manufacturers an 
additional option, and therefore greater flexibility, in meeting the 
requirements of Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS, NHTSA believes that the 
public interest would be served by not delaying the addition of a 350 
kPa maximum tire inflation pressure to Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS. 
Accordingly, NHTSA has determined that there is good cause to establish 
an effective 30 days after publication of this final rule in the 
Federal Register.

Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    This rulemaking document was not reviewed under E.O. 12866, 
``Regulatory Planning and Review.'' The agency has considered the 
impact of this rulemaking action under the Department of 
Transportation's regulatory policies and procedures, and has determined 
that it is not ``significant'' under them.
    This rulemaking action simply provides an additional maximum tire 
inflation pressure to Standard No. 109 and the UTQGS. The additional 
costs to manufacturers should be minuscule, if any, since these 
amendments merely provide manufacturers another voluntary option in 
meeting the requirements of Standard 109 and the UTQGS. Accordingly, a 
full regulatory evaluation is not required.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    NHTSA has considered the effects of this regulatory action under 
the Regulatory Flexibility Act. I hereby certify that the amendments 
promulgated by this final rule will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. Accordingly, the 
agency has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis.
    The agency believes that few, if any, tire manufacturers qualify as 
small businesses. Further, since no additional costs or price changes 
should be associated with this action, small businesses, small 
organizations and small government entities will not be affected in 
their respective capacities as purchasers of new tires.

Executive Order 12612 (Federalism)

    This rulemaking action has been analyzed in accordance with the 
principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 12612, and the 
agency has determined that this rule does not have sufficient 
federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism 
Assessment.

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 will not have any significant impact on 
the quality of the human environment.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, P.L. 96-
511, the agency notes that there are no information collection 
requirements associated with this rulemaking action.

Civil Justice Reform

    This rule does not have any retroactive effect. Under 49 U.S.C. 
30103(b), whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard is in 
effect, a state or political subdivision may prescribe or continue in 
effect a standard applicable to the same aspect of performance of a 
motor vehicle only if the standard is identical to the Federal 
standard. However, a state may prescribe a standard for a motor vehicle 
or equipment obtained for its own use that imposes a higher performance 
requirement than the Federal standard. 49 U.S.C. 30161 sets forth a 
procedure for judicial review of final rules establishing, amending or 
revoking Federal motor vehicle safety standards. A petition for 
reconsideration or other administrative proceedings is not required 
before parties may file suit in court.

List of Subjects

49 CFR Part 571

    Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles, Rubber and rubber 
products, Tires.

49 CFR Part 575

    Consumer protection, Labeling, Motor vehicle safety, Motor 
vehicles, Rubber and rubber products, Tires.

    In consideration of the foregoing, 49 CFR Parts 571 and 575 are 
amended as follows:

PART 571--FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS

    1. The authority citation for Part 571 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117, and 30166; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    2. Section 571.109 is amended by revising S4.2.1(b) and 
S4.2.2.2(b), and by revising Table I-C and Table II of Appendix A, to 
read as follows:


Sec. 571.109  Standard 109; new pneumatic tires.

* * * * *
    S4.2.1 * * *
    (b) Its maximum permissible inflation pressure shall be either 32, 
36, 40, or 60 psi, or 240, 280, 300, 340, or 350 kPa. For a CT tire, 
the maximum permissible inflation pressure shall be either 290, 330, 
350, or 390 kPa.
* * * * *
    Sec. 4.2.2.2 * * *
    (b) (For tires with a maximum permissible inflation pressure of 
240, 280, 290, 300, 330, 350 or 390 kPa, or 60 psi) 7 percent or 10 mm 
(0.4 inches), whichever is larger.
* * * * *
    3. Table I-C of Appendix A to Sec. 571.109 is revised to read as 
follows:

Appendix A--Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 109

* * * * *

                                                            Table I-C.--For Radial Ply Tires                                                            
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Maximum Permissible Inflation                                      
                                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                     Tires other than CT tires                                     CT Tires             
              Size Designation               -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                         psi                                 kPa                                      kPa               
                                             -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                 32       36       40      240      280      300      340      350      290      330      350      390  
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Below 160mm (in-lbs)........................    1,950    2,925    3,900    1,950    3,900    1,950    3,900    1,950    1,950    3,900    1,950    3,900
160mm or above (in-lbs).....................    2,600    3,900    5,200    2,600    5,200    2,600    5,200    2,600    2,600    5,200    2,600    5,200
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
    4. Table II of Appendix A to Sec. 571.109 is revised to read as 
follows:
* * * * * 

                                                           Table II.--Test Inflation Pressures                                                          
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        Maximum permissible inflation pressure to be used for the following test:                                       
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                         Tires other than CT tires                                   CT Tires           
                                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Test Type                                   psi                                 kPa                                 kPa             
                                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    32      36      40      60      240     280     300     340     350     290     330     350     390 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Physical dimensions, bead unseating, tire                                                                                                               
 strength, and tire endurance...................      24      28      32      52     180     220     180     220     230     230     270     230     270
High speed performance..........................      30      34      38      58     220     260     220     260     270     270     310     270     310
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PART 575--CONSUMER INFORMATION REGULATIONS

    1. The authority citation for Part 575 is revised to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, and 30123; delegation of 
authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    2. Section 575.104(g) is amended by revising Table 1 as follows:


Sec. 575.104  Uniform tire quality grading standards.

* * * * *
    (g) * * * 

                                                           Table I.--Test Inflation Pressures                                                           
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                             Maximum permissible inflation pressure for the following test:                                             
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                         Tires other than CT tires                                   CT Tires           
                                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                    Test Type                                   psi                                 kPa                                 kPa             
                                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    32      36      40      60      240     280     300     340     350     290     330     350     390 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Treadwear test..................................      24      28      32      52     180     220     180     220     230     230     270     230     270
Temperature resistant test......................      30      34      38      58     220     260     220     260     270     270     310     270     310
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *


Sec. 575.104  [Amended]

    3. Section 575.104(h) is amended by revising Table 2 as follows:
* * * * *
    (h) * * *

                                 Table 2                                
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                  Multiplier  Multiplier
                                                  to be used  to be used
           Maximum inflation pressure                 for         for   
                                                   treadwear   traction 
                                                    testing     testing 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                        Tires other than CT tires                       
                                                                        
------------------------------------------------------------------------
32 psi..........................................        .851        .851
36 psi..........................................        .870        .797
40 psi..........................................        .883        .753
240 kPa.........................................        .866        .866
280 kPa.........................................        .887        .804
300 kPa.........................................        .866        .866
340 kPa.........................................        .887        .804
350 kPa.........................................        .866        .866
                                                                        
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                CT tires                                
                                                                        
------------------------------------------------------------------------
290 kPa.........................................        .866        .866
330 kPa.........................................        .887        .804
305 kPa.........................................        .866        .866
390 kPa.........................................        .887        ,804
------------------------------------------------------------------------

* * * * *
    Issued on July 22,1994.
Christopher A. Hart,
Deputy Administrator.
[FR Doc. 94-18513 Filed 7-29-94; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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