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Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance


American Government Topics:  Cooper Tire

Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Receipt of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Claudia W. Covell
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
6 December 2018


[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 234 (Thursday, December 6, 2018)]
[Notices]
[Pages 62949-62951]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-26510]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2018-0077; Notice 1]


Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Receipt of Petition for Decision of 
Inconsequential Noncompliance

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

ACTION: Receipt of petition.

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SUMMARY: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (Cooper Tire) has determined that 
certain Cooper brand tires do not fully comply with Federal Motor 
Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 139, New Pneumatic Radial Tires for 
Light Vehicles. Cooper Tire filed a noncompliance report dated May 4, 
2018, and subsequently petitioned NHTSA on May 21, 2018, for a decision 
that the subject noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to 
motor vehicle safety.

DATES: The closing date for comments on the petition is January 7, 
2019.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written data, 
views, and arguments on this petition. Comments must refer to the 
docket and notice number cited in the title of this notice and be 
submitted by any of the following methods:
     Mail: Send comments by mail addressed to U.S. Department 
of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.
     Hand Delivery: Deliver comments by hand to U.S. Department 
of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, 
Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. The 
Docket Section is open on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except 
Federal Holidays.
     Electronically: Submit comments electronically by logging 
onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) website at https://www.regulations.gov/. Follow the online instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Comments may also be faxed to (202) 493-2251.
    Comments must be written in the English language, and be no greater 
than 15 pages in length, although there is no limit to the length of 
necessary attachments to the comments. If comments are submitted in 
hard copy form, please ensure that two copies are provided. If you wish 
to receive confirmation that comments you have submitted by mail were 
received, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard with the 
comments. Note that all comments received will be posted without change 
to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information 
provided.
    All comments and supporting materials received before the close of 
business on the closing date indicated above will be filed in the 
docket and will be considered. All comments and supporting materials 
received after the closing date will also be filed and will be 
considered to the fullest extent possible.
    When the petition is granted or denied, notice of the decision will 
also be published in the Federal Register pursuant to the authority 
indicated at the end of this notice.
    All comments, background documentation, and supporting materials 
submitted to the docket may be viewed by anyone at the address and 
times given above. The documents may also be viewed on the internet at 
https://www.regulations.gov by following the online instructions for 
accessing the dockets. The docket ID number for this petition is shown 
in the heading of this notice.
    DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement is available for review in a 
Federal Register notice published on April 11, 2000, (65 FR 19477-78).

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Overview

    Cooper Tire has determined that certain Cooper brand tires do not 
fully comply with paragraph S5.5.1 of FMVSS No. 139, New Pneumatic 
Radial Tires for Light Vehicles (49 CFR part 571.139). Cooper Tire 
filed a noncompliance report dated May 4, 2018, pursuant to 49 CFR part 
573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports, and 
subsequently petitioned NHTSA on May 21, 2018, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 
30118(d) and 49 CFR part 556, for an exemption from the notification 
and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 on the basis that this 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.

[[Page 62950]]

    This notice of receipt of Cooper Tire's petition is published under 
49 U.S.C. 30118 and 30120 and does not represent any agency decision or 
other exercise of judgment concerning the merits of this petition.

II. Tires Involved

    Approximately 327 Evolution H/T size 245/70R16 tubeless radial 
tires, manufactured between June 4, 2017, and June 10, 2017, are 
potentially involved.

III. Noncompliance

    Cooper Tire explains that the noncompliance is that the subject 
tires were molded with an incorrectly ordered serial week and year on 
the outboard sidewall as required by paragraph S5.5.1(b) of FMVSS No. 
139. Specifically, the subject tires were manufactured with serial week 
``1723'' when they should have been manufactured with serial week 
``2317.''

IV. Rule Requirements

    Paragraph S5.5.1(b) of FMVSS No. 139, includes the requirements 
relevant to this petition:
     For tires manufactured on or after September 1, 2009, each 
tire must be labeled with the tire identification number required by 49 
CFR part 574 on the intended outboard sidewall of the tire.
     Except for retreaded tires, if a tire does not have an 
intended outboard sidewall, the tire must be labeled with the tire 
identification number required by 49 CFR part 574 on one sidewall and 
with either the tire identification number or a partial tire 
identification number, containing all characters in the tire 
identification number except for the date code and, at the discretion 
of the manufacturer, any optional code, on the other side wall.

V. Summary of Petition

    Cooper Tire described the subject noncompliance and stated its 
belief that the noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor 
vehicle safety.
    In support of its petition, Cooper Tire submitted the following 
arguments:
    1. While the 327 tires in the subject population contain an 
incorrectly ordered week and year for the fourth grouping of TIN 
numbers, they are in all other respects properly labeled and meet all 
performance requirements under the FMVSS's. The serial week of 
manufacture has no bearing on the performance or operation of a tire 
and does not create a safety concern to either the operator of the 
vehicle on which the tires are mounted, or the safety of personnel in 
the tire repair, retread, and recycle industry.
    2. Tire registration and traceability will not be interrupted. 
Cooper Tire's internally controlled online registration system has been 
modified to be able to accept the incorrectly ordered 1723 date code. 
Any tires registered with that date code and TIN will be identified 
properly as having been manufactured in the 23rd week of 2017. This 
will ensure that Cooper Tire is able to identify these tires in the 
event they must be recalled. If a recall is necessary, Cooper Tire will 
explain the date issue in any recall notice.
    3. Cooper Tire can also confirm that it will not use the same full 
Tire Identification Number in year 2023. Cooper Tire uses the third 
grouping of numbers within the TIN to identify the SKU or make of the 
tire, as is permitted at the option of the manufacturer under the 
regulations. See 49 CFR 574.5(g)(3). In this case, lJ9 is the third 
grouping and indicates that this tire is a Cooper Evolution H/T. While 
Cooper Tire has not yet set its year 2023 production schedule, if 
Cooper Evolution H/T tires are made in year 2023, Cooper Tire will 
assign another unique identifier so that the tires made in year 2017 
will be distinguishable from the tires made in year 2023. This will 
eliminate the potential for SKUs produced in year 2017 to be confused 
with those produced in year 2023, and will allow for Cooper Tire to 
readily identify the 327 tires that are the subject of this petition.
    4. NHTSA has granted a number of previous inconsequentiality 
petitions relating to mislabeled TINs, provided that the mislabeling 
does not affect the manufacturer's ability to identify the tires. ``The 
purpose of the date code is to identify a tire so that, if necessary, 
the appropriate action can be taken in the interest of public safety 
such as, a safety recall notice.'' Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.; Grant 
of Application, 64 FR 29080 (May 28, 1999); see also Cooper Tire & 
Rubber Company, Grant of Application, 68 FR 16115 (April 2, 2003) 
(same). Accordingly, NHTSA has explained in multiple instances that 
``[t]he agency believes that the true measure of inconsequentiality to 
motor vehicle safety in this case is the effect of the noncompliance on 
the ability of the tire manufacturer to identify the tires in the event 
of recall.'' Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., Grant of Application, 66 FR 
45076 (August 27, 2001). As a result, NHTSA has granted petitions and 
found that TIN noncompliance is inconsequential to safety in cases 
where the TIN is out of sequence or mislabeled, including where the 
week and/or year of manufacture is mislabeled and even where the date 
code is missing altogether. See, e.g., Bridgestone Firestone North 
America Tire, LLC, Grant of Petition, 71 FR 4396 (January 26, 2006) 
(granting petition where date code was missing because manufacturer 
could still identify and recall the tires); Cooper Tire & Rubber 
Company, Grant of Application, 68 FR 16115 (April 2, 2003) (granting 
petition where tires were labeled with wrong plant code, because ``the 
tires have a unique DOT identification''); Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 
Grant of Application, 66 FR 45076 (Aug. 27, 2001) (granting petition 
where the date code was labeled incorrectly, because ``the information 
included on the tire identification label and the manufacturer's tire 
production records is sufficient to ensure that these tires can be 
identified in the event of a recall''); Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.; 
Grant of Application, 64 FR 29080 (May 28, 1999) (granting petition 
where the wrong year was marked in the date code on the tires); Cooper 
Tire & Rubber Company; Grant of Application, 63 FR 29059 (May 27, 1998) 
(granting petition where the date code was missing where tires had a 
unique TIN for recall purposes); Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.,[middot] 
Grant of Application, 60 FR 57617 (November 16, 1995) (granting 
petition where the date code was out of sequence); Uniroyal Goodrich 
Tire Company; Grant of Petition, 59 FR. 64232 (December 13, 1994) 
(granting petition where week and year were mislabeled on tires). As 
with other cases in which NHTSA has granted petitions for a 
determination of inconsequential noncompliance, Cooper Tire will be 
able identify the tires that are the subject of this petition in the 
event of recall. As described above, these tires will have a unique DOT 
identifier that will allow for Cooper Tire to identify and recall them 
in the event that any issues arise in the future.
    5. Cooper Tire has taken steps over the last two years to add 
additional checks in its processes to prevent TIN errors. For example, 
Cooper Tire has implemented software that allows for a specific plant 
to choose only its plant code from a drop-down menu when engraving that 
portion of the TIN. Date codes are updated on a weekly basis and often 
produced in advance of the serial week. The serial week and year is 
manually entered in the system and then engraved on a plug for use. 
Cooper Tire is working to prevent future issues and evaluating the 
possibility of additional technology which will restrict the selection 
of date codes to a contained period of time. Cooper Tire is

[[Page 62951]]

also reviewing its inspection processes to ensure that errors of this 
sort are identified earlier in the process.
    Cooper Tire concluded by expressing the belief that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety, 
and that its petition to be exempted from providing notification of the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118, and a remedy for the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120, should be granted.
    Cooper Tire's complete petition and all supporting documents are 
available by logging onto the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) 
website at: https://www.regulations.gov and by following the online 
search instructions to locate the docket number as listed in the title 
of this notice.
    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 
only from 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 only applies to the subject tires that Cooper Tire no 
longer controlled at the time it determined that the noncompliance 
existed. However, any decision on this petition does not relieve 
vehicle 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 Cooper 
Tire 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.

Claudia W. Covell,
Acting Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2018-26510 Filed 12-4-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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