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Tireco, Inc., Ruling on Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Tireco

Tireco, Inc., Ruling on Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Gregory K. Rea
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
25 August 2016


[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 165 (Thursday, August 25, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 58550-58553]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-20330]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2015-0028; Notice 2]


Tireco, Inc., Ruling on Petition for Decision of Inconsequential 
Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Ruling on petition.

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

SUMMARY: Tireco, Inc. (Tireco) determined that certain Milestar brand 
medium truck tires do not comply with paragraph S6.5(j), and in some 
cases also paragraph S6.5(d), of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 
(FMVSS) No. 119, New Pneumatic Tires for Vehicles with a GVWR of More 
Than 4,536 Kilograms (10,000 Pounds) and Motorcycles. Tireco filed a 
report dated February 5, 2015, pursuant to 49 CFR part 573, Defect and 
Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. Tireco then petitioned NHTSA 
under 49 CFR part 556 for a decision that the subject noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. NHTSA has decided to deny 
Tireco's petition in part and grant it in part.

ADDRESSES: For further information on this decision contact Abraham 
Diaz,

[[Page 58551]]

Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366-5310, facsimile 
(202) 366-5930.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    I. Overview: Pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 30120(h) (see 
implementing rule at 49 CFR part 556), Tireco submitted a petition for 
an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. 
Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential to 
motor vehicle safety. In a letter dated May 7, 2015, Tireco also 
submitted a supplement to its petition.
    Notice of receipt of the Tireco's petition was published by NHTSA 
in the Federal Register on June 24, 2015 (80 FR 36406) with a 30-day 
public comment period. No comments were received. To view the petition 
and all supporting documents log onto the Federal Docket Management 
System (FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Then follow the 
online search instructions to locate docket number ``NHTSA-2015-0028.''
    II. Replacement Tires Involved: Affected are approximately 31,316 
Milestar brand medium truck tires that were imported by Tireco and 
manufactured by Shandong Wanda Boto Tyre Co., LTD. in China between 
June 3, 2013 and January 25, 2015. Refer to Tireco's 49 CFR part 573 
report in docket NHTSA-2015-0028 for detailed descriptions of the 
affected tires.
    III. Noncompliance: Tireco states that the subject tires do not 
comply with paragraph S6.5(j) of FMVSS No. 119 because the affected 
tires are either not marked with the tire's load range letter, or 
incorrectly marked with the letter ``J'' instead of the letter ``L'' to 
designate the tire's load range. In addition, some of the affected 
tires also do not comply with paragraph S6.5(d) of FMVSS No. 119 
because, the maximum load ratings and pressures specified on the 
sidewalls for both single and dual applications are both identified as 
``DUAL.'' The first rating should have been identified as ``SINGLE.''
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S6.5 of FMVSS No. 119 requires in 
pertinent part:

    S6.5 Tire markings. Except as specified in this paragraph, each 
tire shall be marked on each sidewall with the information specified 
in paragraphs (a) through (j) of this section. . . .
    (d) The maximum load rating and corresponding inflation pressure 
of the tire, shown as follows:
    (Mark on tires rated for single and dual load): Max load single 
_kg (_lb) at _kPa (_psi) cold. Max load dual _kg (_lb) at _kPa 
(_psi) cold.
    (Mark on tires rated only for single load): Max load _kg (_lb) 
at _kPa (_psi) cold. . . .
    (j) The letter designating the tire load range.

    V. Summary of Tireco's Analyses: Tireco believes that the absence 
of the load range marking on some of the subject tires causes little or 
no risk of overloading of the tires by an end-user because the tires 
are marked with the correct number of plies, the correct load index and 
the correct maximum load values, which Tireco believes provide 
equivalent information. Tireco also states that it has found one 
previous inconsequential noncompliance petition (see 79 FR 78562; 
December 30, 2014) in which the agency addressed the issue of a missing 
load range marking and believes that the agency should apply the same 
rationale in the case of its petition.
    In the case of the MILESTAR BS628 315/80R22.5 L/20 tires marked 
with the incorrect load range letter ``J,'' Tireco believes there is no 
safety consequence since the tires actually were designed and 
manufactured to be stronger than load range ``J'' tires by constructing 
them with two extra plies than typical load range ``J'' tires would 
have. Thus, there is no risk that the incorrect marking would lead to 
overloading by an end-user. Moreover, the paper label attached to each 
of the tires, which must remain attached until the time of sale, 
contains the correct load range information, so Tireco believes there 
is little, if any, possibility that a purchaser will be misled.
    In the case of the MILESTAR BS623 225/70R19.5 G/14 tires that can 
be used in single or dual configuration, Tireco states the following:
    1. Tireco believes the fact that both of the ratings were labeled 
as applicable to ``DUAL'' applications cannot realistically create a 
safety problem. Particularly since the tires are correctly marked with 
the correct maximum load capacity and inflation pressure in accordance 
with The Tire and Rim Association 2014 Year Book. Tireco also believes 
that any prospective purchaser of these tires, any operator of a truck 
equipped with these tires, and any tire retailer would immediately 
recognize that the first rating, ``1800Kg (3970LBS) AT 760 KPa (110 
PSI) COLD,'' applies to the ``single'' configuration, and the second 
rating, ``1700Kg (3750LBS) AT 760 kPa (110 PSI) COLD,'' applies to the 
``dual'' configuration. Such persons are fully aware that for all 
medium truck tires designed to be used in both single and dual 
configurations, the maximum load and corresponding pressure applicable 
to the single configuration is listed above the information applicable 
to the dual configuration. Such persons also would be aware that there 
could be no valid reason to have two different maximum loads for the 
dual configuration, and thus would immediately understand that the 
first load rating was meant to apply when the tire was utilized in a 
single configuration. Moreover, since the applicable inflation pressure 
is the same for both configurations, there is no risk that the 
mismarking would cause an operator to improperly inflate any of the 
tires.
    2. Tireco states that when a tire is designed for use in both 
single and dual configurations, FMVSS No. 119 requires that compliance 
testing be conducted based on the higher, more punishing tire load. 
Accordingly, Tireco believes that the tires will perform safely in both 
configurations. Tireco also believes that this principle was relied 
upon in grants of two similar petitions filed by Michelin North 
America, Inc. (See 71 FR 77092; December 22, 2006) and (69 FR 62512; 
October 26, 2004).
    In addition, Tireco stated its belief that all of the tires covered 
by this petition meet or exceed the performance requirements of FMVSS 
No. 119, as well as the other labeling requirements of the standard.
    Tireco is not aware of any crashes, injuries, customer complaints, 
or field reports associated with the subject mislabelings.
    Tireco stated that, as soon as they became aware of the 
noncompliance, it immediately isolated the noncompliant inventory in 
Tireco's warehouses to prevent any additional sales. Tireco will bring 
all of the noncompliant tires into full compliance with the 
requirements of FMVSS No. 119, or else the tires will be scrapped. 
Tireco also stated that the fabricating manufacturer has corrected the 
molds at the manufacturing plant, such that no additional tires will be 
manufactured with the noncompliance.
    In summation, Tireco believes that the described noncompliance of 
the subject tires is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, and that 
its petition should be granted to exempt Tireco from providing recall 
notification of noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118 and from 
remedying the recall noncompliance as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120.

NHTSA'S Decision

    NHTSA Analysis: The purpose for the load range marking letter 
required by FMVSS No. 119 S6.5(j) is to inform the tire purchaser and 
end user about the

[[Page 58552]]

load carrying capabilities of the tire. In the case of the subject 
tires, Tireco states that the information the load range letter is 
meant to convey is contained on the tire because the tire is labeled 
with correct maximum load values, correct load index, and correct ply 
rating. For the MILESTAR brand tires: BS628 295/80R22.5, BS623 245/
70R19.5, BD733 245/70R19.5, BA902 10.00R20, BD733 225/70R19.5, BS623 
235/75R17.5, BS628 315/80R22.5, BS625 265/70R19.5, and BS623 215/
75R17.5, Tireco states that the maximum load and maximum permissible 
inflation pressure markings conform with The Tire and Rim Association 
(TRA) and The European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation (ETRTO) 
yearbooks.
    NHTSA agrees that the missing load range letter is inconsequential 
to motor vehicle safety in this case because the information intended 
to be conveyed by the missing load range letter is contained in other 
markings on the tires, specifically: the maximum load and maximum 
permissible inflation pressure marked on the sidewall of the subject 
tires correctly correlates to the maximum loads and pressure listed by 
either the TRA or ETRTO yearbooks.
    Tireco also submitted a supplemental letter for a group of tires 
branded MILESTAR BS628 315/80R22.5 L/20 and describes the noncompliance 
as not missing the tire load range letter, but rather having an 
incorrect load range letter marked onto the tire sidewall. This group 
of tires was marked with the load range letter ``J'', while these tires 
should have been marked with the load range letter ``L''.
    NHTSA also agrees with Tireco that the load range marking 
noncompliance in the subject tires is inconsequential to motor vehicle 
safety. In this case if a consumer followed the load range ``J'' 
designation as marked, they would interpret the labeled recommended 
load carrying capacity to be lower than the actual load carrying 
capacity. Since the labeled tire load range ``J'' is lower than the 
actual load range of the tire as manufactured, Tireco understated the 
load carrying capability of the tire. This Tireco tire, in effect, has 
more load carrying capability than the marking load range ``J'' 
indicates.
    Tireco also identified an additional noncompliance affecting only 
the MILESTAR BS623 225/70R19.5 G/14 tires. This tire, in addition to 
the load range letter missing, was marked with the word ``DUAL'' 
instead of the word ``SINGLE'' followed by its maximum load rating 
marking of ``1800 Kg (3970 LBS) AT 760 kPa (110 PSI) COLD'', and Tireco 
contends that this marking does not create a safety problem. NHTSA 
disagrees for the following reasons:
    1. The purpose of the word ``SINGLE'' marked on a tire, preceding 
the maximum load rating, is to ensure that purchasers and end users 
understand that the loads and pressures following the word ``SINGLE'' 
correspond to single tire configuration loading. The same serves for 
the word ``DUAL''. Marking the word ``DUAL'' in lieu of the word 
``SINGLE'' creates a situation in which the driver or end user of the 
vehicle may overload the tires. Specifically, the subject tires are 
incorrectly marked, ``MAX LOAD DUAL 1800 Kg (3970 LBS) AT 760 KPa (110 
PSI) COLD'' instead of ``MAX LOAD SINGLE 1800 Kg (3970 LBS) AT 760 KPa 
(110 PSI) COLD.'' This creates a scenario where a purchaser or end user 
could believe it is appropriate to load the tires in a dual 
configuration at the higher of the two marked dual loads. In this case, 
the correct dual load of the subject tires is ``MAX LOAD DUAL 1700 Kg 
(3750 LBS) AT 760 Kpa (110 PSI) COLD'' and the incorrect marking is 
``MAX LOAD DUAL 1800 Kg (3970 LBS) AT 760 KPa (110 PSI) COLD''. The 
tires could be overloaded by 220 lbs per tire; in a dual configuration 
on a single axle the overloading factor is 4 thereby creating an 
overloading condition of 880 lbs per axle. Overloading these tires is a 
potential safety issue.
    2. Tireco cites a petition for inconsequential noncompliance filed 
by Michelin North America, Inc. (71 FR 77092; December 22, 2006), which 
was granted, and Tireco contends that the same ruling should apply to 
their petition. In Michelin's case the noncompliance was that the value 
of the load following the word ``DUAL'' was incorrectly marked. 
However, the load values following the word ``DUAL'' were within the 
safety factor range associated for similar radial truck tires of its 
size. Furthermore a safety factor could be computed since both 
``SINGLE'' AND ``DUAL'' words were marked on the tire. In Tireco's 
case, the safety factor cannot be computed since the word ``SINGLE'' is 
not marked and information is not readily available to the end user or 
purchaser of the tire as to which is the single load. Having marked the 
word ``DUAL'' in place of the word ``SINGLE'' eliminates the inclusion 
of a safety factor for a dual configuration. This results in a risk to 
safety.
    3. Tireco also states that that when a tire is designed for use in 
both single and dual configurations, FMVSS No. 119 requires that 
compliance testing be done based on the higher, more punishing tire 
load. Tireco states that this indicates that the tires will therefore 
perform safely in both the single and dual configurations. Tireco 
states that this principal is states in two petitions filed by Michelin 
North America, Inc. that were granted by the agency. See71 FR 77092 
(Dec. 22, 2006); 69 FR 62512 (Oct. 26, 2004). Both petitions cited by 
Tireco involved tires for which the maximum load and tire pressure of 
the tire for the dual configuration was incorrect but the maximum load 
and tire pressure for the single configuration was correctly marked. In 
the 2006 petition, NHTSA granted the petition, in part, because the 
incorrect stated maximum load of the tire in the dual configuration was 
still the safety factor for use in that configuration for that tire. 
NHTSA does not believe the facts in the two Michelin petitions cited by 
Tireco support a grant of this petition. In the case of the 
noncompliant tires that are the subject of this petition, the load 
intended to be used in the single configuration is preceded by the word 
``DUAL.'' Therefore, the safety factor for the tires is eliminated in 
the as used condition, as the tires could be mistakenly loaded to the 
maximum load for the single configuration when used in the dual 
configuration. This increases the risk to safety for the users of 
vehicles on which these tires are mounted.
    4. Tireco also contends that any purchaser of the subject tires and 
any operator of a truck equipped with the tires would immediately 
recognize that the first rating ``MAX LOAD DUAL 1800 Kg (3970 LBS) AT 
760 Kpa (110 PSI) COLD'' applies to the ``SINGLE'' configuration, and 
the second rating ``MAX LOAD DUAL 1700 Kg (3750 LBS) AT 760 Kpa (110 
PSI) COLD'' applies to the ``DUAL'' configuration. Such persons are 
fully aware that for all medium truck tires designed to be used in both 
single and dual configurations, the maximum load and corresponding 
pressure applicable to the single configuration is listed above the 
information applicable to the dual configuration. NHTSA does not agree 
with Tireco's reasoning here since a tire purchaser or end user of the 
subject tires may not be fully aware that the first rating applies to 
single configuration loading unless the word ``SINGLE'' is marked on 
the sidewall. As wrongly marked with the word ``DUAL,'' instead of the 
word ``SINGLE,'' the possibility for confusion and associated safety 
compromise exists.
    5. Additionally on March 15, 2016, Tireco submitted test data to 
NHTSA for review. This data consisted of endurance testing conducted by 
Shandong Wanda Boto Tyre Co., LTD. to

[[Page 58553]]

support its basis that the tires are safe for use. This additional 
testing was performed at loads, speeds, and timing greater than the 
minimum requirements of FMVSS No. 119 with a duration of 121.6 hours of 
testing which is 74.6 hours beyond the minimum requirements. Yet the 
agency does not agree that the additional data is sufficient to support 
the overload condition in the dual configuration because the tires 
would be expected to operate for much longer than 121.6 hours in the 
field.
    The subject tires as improperly marked indicate a maximum dual load 
rating capacity value above that designed for the tire. A tire loaded 
above its designed maximum load rating capacity creates a potential 
safety problem for the driver of that motor vehicle and others on the 
road.
    For the reasons stated above, NHTSA does not believe that the 
``DUAL'' marking noncompliance on the subject MILESTAR BS623 225/
70R19.5 G/14 tires is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. NHTSA 
Decision: NHTSA has decided to deny Tireco's petition in part and grant 
it in part.
    In the case of the subset of the subject tires that were marked 
``DUAL'' instead of ``SINGLE,'' Tireco has not met its burden of 
persuasion that the noncompliance with paragraph S6.5(d) of FMVSS No. 
119 is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, Tireco is 
obligated to provide notification of and a free remedy for that 
noncompliance under 49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120.
    In the cases of the described load range letter marking 
noncompliances, NHTSA has decided that Tireco has met its burden of 
persuasion that the noncompliances with paragraph S6.5(j)of FMVSS No. 
119 are inconsequential to motor vehicle safety and that Tireco is 
therefore exempted from the obligation of providing notification of, 
and a remedy for, the load range letter marking noncompliances under 49 
U.S.C. 30118 and 30120.
    NHTSA notes that the statutory provisions (49 U.S.C. 30118(d) and 
30120(h)) that permit manufacturers to file petitions for a 
determination of inconsequentiality allow NHTSA to exempt manufacturers 
from only the duties found in sections 30118 and 30120, respectively, 
to notify owners, purchasers, and dealers of a defect or noncompliance 
and to remedy the defect or noncompliance. Therefore, any decision on 
this petition applies only to the subject tires that Tireco no longer 
controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance existed. 
However, any decision on this petition does not relieve equipment 
distributors and dealers of the prohibitions on the sale, offer for 
sale, or introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate 
commerce of the noncompliant tires under their control after Tireco 
notified them that the subject noncompliance existed.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8.

    Issued on: August 19, 2016.
Gregory K. Rea,
Associate Administrator for Enforcement.
[FR Doc. 2016-20330 Filed 8-24-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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