[Federal Register: March 5, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 43)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 10049-10085]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr05mr02-18]                         


[[Page 10049]]

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Part II

Department of Transportation


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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration



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49 CFR Part 571



Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Tires; Proposed Rule


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[Docket No. NHTSA-00-8011]
RIN 2127-AI54

 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Tires

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

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

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SUMMARY: The Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and 
Documentation Act of 2000 mandates a rulemaking proceeding to revise 
and update our safety performance requirements for tires. In response, 
this document proposes to establish new and more stringent tire 
performance requirements in a new Federal motor vehicle safety standard 
that would apply to all new tires for use on vehicles with a gross 
vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less. The agency recently 
proposed to establish a new tire standard, Standard No. 139, in a 
December 2001 NPRM on tire safety information. Today's document 
proposes to include the new tire performance requirements in that 
standard.
    This document seeks comments on the proposed new standard, 
including its applicability and test procedures, modifications to 
related existing standards, and lead time provided for manufacturers to 
achieve compliance. It also seeks comments on the possible future 
specification of shearography analysis, a technique which evaluates the 
condition of a tire using laser technology. Finally, it seeks comments 
on NHTSA's research plans.

DATES: You should submit your comments early enough to ensure that 
Docket Management receives them not later than May 6, 2002.

ADDRESSES: You may submit your comments in writing to: Docket 
Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC, 
20590. Alternatively, you may submit your comments electronically by 
logging onto the Docket Management System website at http://
dms.dot.gov. Click on ``Help & Information'' or ``Help/Info'' to view 
instructions for filing your comments electronically. Regardless of how 
you submit your comments, you should mention the docket number of this 
document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical and policy issues: Mr. 
George Soodoo or Mr. Joseph Scott, Office of Crash Avoidance Standards, 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street, 
SW., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-2720. Fax: (202) 366-
4329.
    For legal issues: Nancy Bell, Attorney Advisor, Office of the Chief 
Counsel, NCC-20, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 
Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590. Telephone: (202) 366-2992. 
Fax: (202) 366-3820.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: You may read the materials placed in the 
docket for this document (e.g., the comments submitted in response to 
this document by other interested persons) by going to the street 
address given above under ADDRESSES. The hours of the Docket Management 
System (DMS) are indicated above in the same location.
    You may also read the materials on the Internet. To do so, take the 
following steps:
    (1) Go to the Web page of the Department of Transportation DMS 
(https://www.regulations.gov/).
    (2) On that page, click on ``search'' near the top of the page or 
scroll down to the words ``Search the DMS Web'' and click on them.
    (3) On the next page (https://www.regulations.gov/search/), scroll down to 
``Docket Number'' and type in the four-digit docket number (8011) shown 
in the title at the beginning of this document. After typing the docket 
number, click on ``search.''
    (4) On the next page (``Docket Summary Information''), which 
contains docket summary information for the materials in the docket you 
selected, scroll down to ``search results'' and click on the desired 
materials. You may download the materials.

Table of Contents

I. Executive Summary and Overview
II. Background
III. Existing Tire Standards--Performance Requirements
IV. Current Safety Problem--Outdated Performance Requirements
    A. Transition From Bias Ply to Radial Tires
    B. Safety Problems Associated with Tires
    1. Population of Tire Related Crashes
    2. Geographical and Seasonal Effects
    3. Tire Problems by Tire Type and Light Truck Type
    4. Crashes Indirectly Caused by Tire Problems
    C. Implications of Changes in U.S. Light Vehicle Market
V. Agency Response to Safety Problem
    A. Relationship Between TREAD Act and Tire Harmonization
    B. Submissions to NHTSA Tire Upgrade Docket (Docket No. NHTSA-
2000-8011)
    1. Rubber Manufacturers Association December 2000 Testing 
Protocol
    A. Passenger Tires--High Speed Test
    B. Passenger Tires--Endurance Test
    C. Light Truck Tires--High Speed
    D. Light Truck Tires--Endurance Test
    2. Other Substantive Submissions
    C. NHTSA Tire Testing at Standards Testing Lab
    1. High Speed Testing
    2. Endurance Testing
    3. Low Inflation Pressure Testing
    4. Conclusions From Testing Results
VI. Agency Proposal
    A. Summary of Proposal
    B. Application of the New Standard
    C. Proposed Test Procedures
    1. High Speed Test
    a. Ambient Temperature
    b. Load
    c. Inflation Pressure
    d. Speed
    e. Duration
    2. Endurance Test
    a. Ambient Temperature
    b. Load
    c. Inflation Pressure
    d. Speed
    e. Duration
    3. Low Inflation Pressure Performance Tests
    a. Low Pressure--Tire Pressure Monitoring System Test
    b. Low Pressure--High Speed Test
    4. Road Hazard Impact Test
    5. Bead Unseating
    6. Aging Effects
    a. Adhesion (Peel) Test
    b. Michelin's Long Term Durability Endurance Test
    c. Oven Aging
    D. Deletion of FMVSS No. 109
    E. Modification to FMVSS Nos. 110 and 120
    F. Modification to FMVSS Nos. 117 and 129
    G. De-rating of P-metric tires
    H. Other NHTSA Research Plans
    1. Bead Unseating Research
    2. Road Hazard Impact Test (SAE J1981) Research
    I. Additional Considerations
    1. Lead time
    2. Shearography Analysis
    3. Revised Test Speed in Uniform Tire Quality Temperature 
Grading Requirement
    4. Request for Comments on Particular Issues
VII. Benefits
VIII. Costs
    A. Original Equipment Tire and Vehicle Costs
    B. Total Annual Costs
    C. Testing Costs
    D. Request for Comments on Costs and Benefits of Individual 
Tests
IX. Effective Date
X. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices
    A. Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and 
Procedures
    B. Regulatory Flexibility Act
    C. National Environmental Policy Act
    D. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)
    E. Unfunded Mandates Act
    F. Civil Justice Reform

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    G. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act
    H. Paperwork Reduction Act
    I. Plain Language
XI. Submission of Comments
XII. Proposed Regulatory Text

I. Executive Summary and Overview

    Section 10 of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, 
Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act mandates that the agency 
issue a final rule to revise and update its tire performance standards. 
However, the Act gives the agency substantial discretion over the 
substance of the final rule. The Act does not specify what revisions or 
updatings should be made. For example, it does not specify which 
particular existing tests should be improved or how much they should be 
improved. Likewise, it does not specify which particular new tests 
should be added or how stringent they should be. However, the 
legislative history does contain specific references to some tests like 
aging tests.
    In response to section 10, the agency comprehensively examined 
possible ways of revising and updating its tire standards. In doing so, 
it placed particular emphasis on improving the ability of tires to 
withstand the effects of factors mentioned during the consideration and 
enactment of the TREAD Act such as tire heat build up, low inflation, 
and aging. The agency has examined the value of modifying the existing 
tests in its tire standards. In addition, it has examined the value of 
adopting several new tests.
    As a result of these efforts, the agency has identified an array of 
amendments for revising and updating its tire standards and thereby 
improving tire performance. Some would upgrade existing tests, while 
the others would add new ones.
    The agency recently proposed to establish a new tire standard, 
Standard No. 139, in a December 2001 NPRM on tire safety information 
(Docket No. NHTSA-01-11157, 66 FR 65536, December 19, 2001). Today's 
document proposes to include the new tire performance requirements in 
that standard. The standard would apply to light vehicle tires. As used 
in the December 2001 proposal, ``light vehicles'' are vehicles (except 
motorcycles) with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds 
or less.
    Under today's proposal, the new standard would contain requirements 
and test procedures addressing the following aspects of tire 
performance: Tire Dimension, High Speed, Endurance, Road Hazard Impact, 
Bead Unseating, Low Inflation Pressure, and Aging Effects.\1\
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    \1\ See 66 FR 65536 for the proposed tire information 
requirements. For the convenience of the reader, we have placed in 
the docket for today's NPRM a document that shows how the tire 
safety information and performance requirements may appear together 
in Standard No. 139.
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    The proposed High Speed and Endurance tests would replace the 
current High Speed and Endurance tests in FMVSS No. 109, New Pneumatic 
Tires--Passenger Cars, 49 CFR 571.109, with a more stringent 
combination of testing parameters (ambient temperature, load, inflation 
pressure, speed, and duration.) Most significantly, the proposed High 
Speed test specifies test speeds (140, 150 and 160 km/h (88, 94, and 
100 mph)) that are substantially higher than those currently specified 
in FMVSS No. 109 (120, 128, 136 km/h (75, 80, 85 mph)). Likewise, the 
proposed Endurance Test specifies a test speed 50 percent faster (120 
km/h (75 mph)) than that currently specified in FMVSS No. 109 (80 km/h 
(50 mph)), as well as a duration 6 hours longer (40 hours total) than 
that currently specified in FMVSS No. 109 (34 hours total). At the 
specified test speed (120 km/h), the Proposed Endurance Test distance 
(4800 km) is almost double the distance accumulated than under the 
current Endurance Test (2720 km at 80 km/h). These new testing 
parameters are based on NHTSA's activities undertaken in response to 
the TREAD Act, including extensive agency testing, data gathering and 
analyses as well as agency review of other existing international, 
industry and National standards and proposals, and submissions by the 
public.
    The proposed Road Hazard Impact Test and the Bead Unseating Test 
are modeled on SAE Recommended Practice J1981, Road Hazard Impact Test 
for Wheel and Tire Assemblies (Passenger Car, Light Truck, and 
Multipurpose Vehicles), and the Toyota Air Loss Test, respectively. 
These new tests would replace the Strength and Bead Unseating 
Resistance tests in the current FMVSS No. 109 with tests that are more 
dynamic as opposed to quasi-static.
    In addition to the tests cited above, the proposed standard 
contains tests for two new aspects of performance: Low Inflation 
Pressure Performance and Aging Effects. By creating tests for these 
aspects of performance, the agency is attempting to address concerns 
raised by members of Congress in hearings that preceded the enactment 
of the TREAD Act that NHTSA's current test requirements do not evaluate 
how well tires perform when significantly underinflated or after being 
subjected to environmental variables, such as heat, which accelerate 
aging. In particular, underinflation and heat were factors highlighted 
as contributing to failure of the Firestone ATX and Wilderness tires in 
the TREAD hearings, and in the agency's Firestone investigation (NHTSA 
Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) investigation number EA00-023).
    To test Low Inflation Pressure Performance, the agency is proposing 
two alternative tests based on agency testing and data analyses. Both 
tests utilize tires significantly under-inflated, for instance 20 psi 
for P-metric tires (the low inflation pressure threshold requirement 
for warning lamp activation in the proposed Tire Pressure Monitoring 
System (TPMS) standard, Docket No. NHTSA-00-8572 (66 FR 38982, July 26, 
2001)), as the ``inflation pressure'' testing parameter for standard 
load P-metric tires. To test for resistance to Aging Effects, the 
agency proposes three alternative tests that would evaluate a tire's 
long term durability through methods different than and/or beyond those 
required by both the current and the proposed Endurance Test 
parameters. The three tests use peel strength testing, long-term 
durability endurance requirements, and oven aging, respectively. The 
agency solicits comments on which of the two proposed tests for 
addressing Low Inflation Pressure Performance, and which of the three 
tests proposed for addressing Aging Effects, should be chosen for the 
new standard.
    In addition to proposing test procedures for the new standard, the 
agency also discusses in this document its ongoing and future research 
plans on tire safety, and seeks comments on the future use of 
shearography analysis (a method of analysis using laser technology) for 
evaluating the condition of tires subjected to the proposed testing 
procedures and the plans for revising the Uniform Tire Quality Grading 
Temperature Grading Requirement testing speeds so that they are 
consistent with the test speeds in the proposed High Speed tests.
    Finally, the agency discusses revising FMVSS Nos. 110, Tire 
selection and rims, for passenger cars, 49 CFR 571.110, and 120, Tire 
selection and rims for motor vehicles other than passenger cars, 49 CFR 
571.120, to reflect the applicability of the proposed light vehicle 
tire standard to vehicles up to 10,000 pounds GVWR, and revising FMVSS 
Nos. 117, Retreaded pneumatic tires, 49 CFR 571.117, and 129, New non-
pneumatic tires for passenger cars, 49 CFR 571.129, to replace the 
performance tests which reference or mirror those in FMVSS No. 109 with

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those specified in the proposed new light vehicle tire standard.
    Wishing to adopt only those amendments that contribute to improved 
safety, and mindful of the principles for regulatory decision-making set 
forth in Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, NHTSA 
has examined the benefits and costs of these amendments. Its efforts to 
do so, however, have been limited by several factors. Two factors stand 
out. One is the limited time allowed by the schedule specified in the 
TREAD Act for completing this rulemaking. That has limited the amount 
and variety of information that the agency could obtain and testing 
that the agency could conduct to examine the effects of different 
versions of the amendments under consideration. The other is the 
difficulty inherent in crash avoidance rulemakings, stemming from the 
multiplicity of the factors contributing to the occurrence of any crash 
and the difficulty of ascertaining the relative contribution of each 
factor, in linking specific improvements in safety requirements with 
specific reductions in crashes and resulting deaths and injuries. 
Together, these limitations have made it difficult to assess and 
compare the benefits and costs of this rulemaking.
    At this time, the agency believes that improving tires will be 
beneficial in reducing tire failures and crashes resulting from tire 
failures. However, we do not have a good estimate of the extent to 
which the improvements will improve safety. We have made an estimate of 
the target population--373 fatalities and 9,247 injuries in the target 
population. If the improvements needed to pass the high-speed and 
endurance tests (estimated to be 22 percent) related directly to an 
improvement in safety, the total potential improvement would be 82 
lives saved (373* .22) and 2,034 injuries avoided. Since 32.8 percent 
of the tires currently do not pass the proposed requirements, the 
benefits would be 27 lives saved (373 * 0.22 * 0.328) and 667 injuries 
reduced.
    The agency emphasizes that not all benefits could be quantified. 
Specifically, the agency believes that there will be other, currently 
non-quantifiable, benefits from the proposed Aging test and aspects of 
the proposal that address the overloading of vehicles. Additionally, 
there could be benefits from the proposed Low Inflation Pressure 
Performance tests and from the proposed Road Hazard and Bead Unseating 
tests.
    The agency's estimate of the price increase to improve tires up to 
the performance levels required in the High Speed and Endurance tests 
is $3 per affected tire. Based on testing, we estimate that about one-
third (32.8 percent) of all tires would need improvements to pass those 
two tests. If the cost for these improved tires were spread across the 
entire new light vehicle fleet, the average new vehicle price increase 
would, we estimate, be $4.09 per vehicle. The overall annual cost of 
these tests for new original equipment (64 million tires) and 
replacement tires (223 million tires) is estimated at $282 million for 
a total of 287 million tires sold annually and the net costs per 
equivalent life saved would be about $7.2 million.
    We do not anticipate an increase in costs for the proposed Road 
Hazard Impact and Bead Unseating tests because our testing indicates 
that most of current production tires would pass these tests. The 
agency has not conducted sufficient testing of the proposed Aging tests 
to anticipate their potential costs. The agency believes, however, that 
most manufacturers already perform an aging test. Therefore, it is 
likely that the incremental cost of adding an aging test would be 
minimal.
    With regard to the Low Inflation Pressure Performance tests, one 
alternative would provide no added costs because agency testing 
indicates that current production tires pass the test. Tires tested to 
the other alternative have a higher failure margin. Costs for this test 
cannot be characterized by the agency at this point.
    The agency is concerned about the overall costs of this rulemaking 
and the net costs per equivalent life saved. While the agency believes 
that its proposed amendments represent a reasoned proposal that is 
based on best currently available information and that would improve 
tire safety, it is concerned about the apparent overall costs of those 
amendments. The agency is particularly concerned that the cost per 
equivalent life saved is significantly higher than that in most NHTSA 
vehicle safety rulemakings.
    Because of the broad mandate from Congress and the uncertainty 
associated with the analysis of benefits and costs, the agency believes 
that the most appropriate course of action is for it to seek public 
comment on the full array of potential amendments that it has 
identified. As a result of this NPRM, the agency anticipates receiving 
cost data and other information that will enable it to refine its 
assessment of benefits and costs. The agency will then be in a better 
position to pick and choose among the proposed amendments. Its 
intention is to use that information to fashion a final rule consistent 
with the principles of Executive Order 12866.

II. Background

    The Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and 
Documentation (TREAD) Act, Pub. L. 106-414, signed into law on November 
1, 2000, requires the agency to address numerous vehicle safety matters 
through rulemaking. Section 10 of the Act directs the Secretary of 
Transportation to conduct a rulemaking to revise and update the tire 
safety standards published at 49 CFR 571.109 and 571.119, and to 
complete the rulemaking, i.e., issue a final rule, by June 1, 2002.\2\
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    \2\ The title of section 10 is ``Endurance and resistance 
standards for tires.'' The section reads in full as follows:
    The Secretary of Transportation shall conduct a rulemaking to 
revise and update the tire standards published at 49 CFR 571.109 and 
49 CFR 571.119. The Secretary shall complete the rulemaking under 
this section not later than June 1, 2002.
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III. Existing Tire Standards--Performance Requirements

    The following discussion summarizes current provisions relating to 
tires.
    FMVSS No. 109, New pneumatic tires, 49 CFR 571.109, specifies the 
requirements for all tires manufactured for use on passenger cars 
manufactured after 1948. This standard, which was issued in 1967 under 
the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Safety Act), 
specifies dimensions for tires used on passenger cars and requires that 
the tires meet specified strength, resistance to bead unseating, 
endurance, and high speed requirements, and be labeled with certain 
safety information. FMVSS No. 109 applies to passenger car (P-metric) 
tires produced for use on passenger cars, multipurpose passenger 
vehicles (MPV), and light trucks (sport utility vehicles (SUV), vans, 
minivans, and pickup trucks). The standard was adopted from the Society 
of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice J918c, Passenger Car 
Tire Performance Requirements and Test Procedures, which was first 
issued by the SAE in June 1965. \3\ The current FMVSS No. 109 includes 
four performance requirements for tires:
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    \3\ SAE is an organization which develops voluntary standards 
for aerospace, automotive and other industries. Many of SAE's 
recommended practices are developed using technical information 
supplied by vehicle manufacturers and automotive test laboratories.
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     A strength test, which evaluates the strength of the 
reinforcing materials in the tire;
     A resistance-to-bead unseating test, which evaluates how 
well the tire bead

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is seated on the rim (regulating the tire-rim interface guards against 
sudden loss of tire air pressure when a tire is subjected to lateral 
forces such as during severe turning maneuvers);
     An endurance test, which evaluates resistance to heat 
buildup when the tire is run at its rated load nonstop for a total of 
34 hours, and
     A high speed test, which evaluates resistance to heat 
buildup when the tire is run at 88 percent of its maximum load at 
speeds of 75 mph, 80 mph, and 85 mph for 30 minutes at each speed.
    For the purposes of testing tires to determine their compliance 
with these requirements, the standard specifies values for several 
factors, such as tire inflation pressure, the load \4\ on the tire, and 
the rim on which a tire is mounted. The standard specifies permissible 
inflation pressures (or wheel sizes, in the case of bead unseating 
test) to facilitate compliance testing. The standard requires that each 
passenger car tire must have a maximum permissible inflation pressure 
labeled on its sidewall (S4.3). Section 4.2.1(b) lists the permissible 
maximum pressures: 32, 36, 40, or 60 pounds per square inch (psi) or 
240, 280, 290, 300, 330, 340, 350, or 390 kiloPascals (kPa). A 
manufacturer's selection of a maximum pressure has the effect of 
determining the pressures at which its tire is tested. For each 
permissible maximum pressure, Table II of the standard specifies 
pressures at which the standard's tests must be conducted. The intent 
of this provision is to limit the number of possible maximum inflation 
pressures and thereby reduce the likelihood of having tires of the same 
size on the same vehicle with one maximum load value, but with 
different maximum permissible inflation pressures.
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    \4\ Load percentages stated throughout this document, unless 
otherwise specified, are based on the sidewall maximum rated load.
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    Closely related to FMVSS No. 109 is FMVSS No. 110, Tire selection 
and rims, 49 CFR 571.110. FMVSS No. 110 requires that each passenger 
car be equipped with tires that comply with FMVSS No. 109, that tires 
on the cars be capable of carrying the GVWR of that vehicle, that the 
rims on the car be appropriate for use with the tires, and that certain 
information about the car and its tires appear on a placard in the 
passenger car. FMVSS No. 110 also specifies rim dimension requirements 
and further specifies that, in the event of a sudden loss of inflation 
pressure at a speed of 97 km/h (60 mph), rims must retain a deflated 
tire until the vehicle can be stopped with a controlled braking 
application. FMVSS No. 110 initially became effective in April 1968.
    FMVSS No. 117, Retreaded pneumatic tires, 49 CFR 571.117, 
establishes performance, labeling, and certification requirements for 
retreaded pneumatic passenger car tires. Among other things, the 
standard requires retreaded passenger car tires to comply with the 
tubeless tire resistance to bead unseating and the tire strength 
requirements of FMVSS No. 109. FMVSS No. 117 also specifies 
requirements for casings to be used for retreading, and certification 
and labeling requirements.
    FMVSS No. 119, New pneumatic tires for vehicles other than 
passenger cars, 49 CFR 571.119, specifies performance and labeling 
requirements for new pneumatic tires designed for highway use on 
multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses, trailers and 
motorcycles manufactured after 1948, and which requires treadwear 
indicators in tires, and rim matching information concerning those 
tires. Under this standard, each tire has to meet requirements that are 
qualitatively similar to those in FMVSS No. 109 for passenger car 
tires. The high speed performance test in this standard only applies to 
motorcycle tires and to non-speed-restricted tires of 14.5-inch nominal 
rim diameter or less marked load range A, B, C, or D. In addition, 
FMVSS No. 119 does not contain a resistance-to-bead unseating test.
    A tire under FMVSS No. 119 is generally required to meet the 
performance requirements when mounted on any rim listed as suitable for 
its size designation in the publications, current at the time of the 
tire's manufacture, of the tire and rim associations that are listed in 
the standard. Further, the tire is required to meet the dimensional 
requirements when mounted on any such rim of the width listed in the 
load-inflation tables of this standard. In addition to the permanent 
marking for any non-matching listed rims, each tire manufacturer is 
required to attach to the tire, for the information of distributors, 
dealers and users, a label listing the designations of rims appropriate 
for use with the tire.
    FMVSS No. 120, Tire Selection and rims for motor vehicles other 
than passenger cars, 49 CFR 571.120, requires that vehicles other than 
passenger cars equipped with pneumatic tires be equipped with rims that 
are listed by the tire manufacturer as suitable for use with those 
tires and that rims be labeled with certain information. It also 
requires that these vehicles shall be equipped with tires and rims that 
are adequate to support the fully-loaded vehicle under contemplated 
operating conditions.
    The primary effect of Standard No. 120 is to specify the minimum 
load-carrying characteristics of tires not already subject to the 
passenger car tire and rim selection requirements of FMVSS No. 110.
    Tire selection under FMVSS No. 120 consists of two elements. With 
one exception, each vehicle must be equipped with tires that comply 
with FMVSS No. 119 and the load rating of those tires on each axle of 
the vehicle must together at least equal the gross axle weight rating 
(GAWR) for that axle. If the certification label lists more than one 
GAWR-tire combination for the axle, the sum of the tire's maximum load 
ratings must meet or exceed the GAWR that corresponds to the tire's 
size designation. If more than one combination is listed, but the size 
designation of the actual tires on the vehicle is not among those 
listed, then the sum of the load ratings must simply meet or exceed the 
lowest GAWR that does appear.
    FMVSS No. 120 also contains a requirement related to the use of 
passenger car tires on vehicles other than passenger cars. The 
requirement states that when a tire that is subject to FMVSS No. 109 is 
installed on a multipurpose passenger vehicle, truck, bus, or trailer, 
the tire's load rating must be reduced by a factor of 1.10 by dividing 
by 1.10 before determining whether the tires on an axle are adequate 
for the GAWR. This 10 percent de-rating of P-metric tires provides a 
greater load reserve when these tires are installed on vehicles other 
than passenger cars. The reduction in the load rating is intended to 
provide a safety margin for the generally harsher treatment, such as 
heavier loading and possible off-road use, that passenger car tires 
receive when installed on a MPV, truck, bus or trailer, instead of on a 
passenger car.
    FMVSS No. 129, New non-pneumatic tires for passenger cars, 49 CFR 
571.129, includes definitions relevant to non-pneumatic tires and 
specifies performance requirements, testing procedures, and labeling 
requirements for these tires. To regulate performance, the standard 
contains performance requirements and tests related to physical 
dimensions, lateral strength, strength (in vertical loading), tire 
endurance, and high speed performance. The performance requirements and 
tests in FMVSS No. 129 were based upon those contained in FMVSS No. 
109.
    The FMVSS No. 129 labeling requirements are similar to those set

[[Page 10054]]

forth in section S4.3 of FMVSS No. 109 for size, designation, load, 
rating, rim size and type designation, manufacturer or brand name, 
certification, and tire identification number. The standard also 
includes temporary use and maximum speed labeling requirements and 
allows methods of permanent marking other than ``molding'' in 
anticipation of the difficulty of molding required information on non-
pneumatic designs. FMVSS No. 129 initially became effective in August 
1990.

IV. Current Safety Problem--Outdated Performance Requirements

A. Transition From Bias Ply to Radial Tires

    When FMVSS No. 109 was issued in 1967, nearly all (more than 99 
percent) of passenger car tires in the U.S. were of bias, or bias belt 
construction. The test procedures that appear in FMVSS No. 109 were 
developed in a bias tire environment. Today, bias tires have been 
almost completely replaced by radial tires on passenger cars. The use 
of radial tires has grown to the extent that they represent more than 
95 percent of passenger tires in both the U.S. and Europe and are used 
on most new light vehicles sold in the U.S.\5\ NHTSA does not require 
radial tires, but regulates their performance through FMVSS Nos. 109 
and 119.
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    \5\ Statistics relating to the increase in use of radial tires 
since 1968, as reported in the Rubber Manufacturers Association's 
(RMA's) Factbook 2000--U.S. Tire Shipment Activity Report for 
Statistical Year 1999 (RMA 2000 Yearbook), are as follows:
     OE Passenger Tires Shipments: (included are all P-
metric tires even if destined for light truck usage) In 1970 radial 
tires comprised 0.5 percent of the market and bias/bias ply tires 
comprised 99.5 percent. In 1999 radial tires comprised 93.7 percent 
of the market and bias/bias ply tires comprised 6.3 percent.
     Replacement Market Passenger Tire Shipments: 
(Replacement shipments include all domestically produced and 
imported tires sent to the U.S. replacement market. Figures include 
all sizes and types of tires designed for standard highway passenger 
car service, including P-Metric tires destined for light trucks.) In 
1970 radials comprised 2.1 percent of market and in 1999 radials 
comprised 99.8 percent of market.
     Production of Passenger Tires: (Passenger tire 
production covers all tires produced in the United States whether 
for domestic consumption or for export. Figures represent the 
production for all sizes and types of tires designed for standard 
highway passenger car service and include P-Metric tires destined 
for use on light trucks.) In 1970 radial tires comprised 0.0 percent 
of tires produced. In 1999 radial tires comprised 99.1 percent of 
tires produced.
     OE Light Truck Tires Shipments: (Light truck tire 
original equipment shipments covers all tires sent to manufacturers 
or original equipment vehicles in the U.S. and includes all sizes/
types of tires designed by the participants for fitment to light 
truck.) In 1980 radial tires comprised 14.8 percent of shipments and 
in 1999 radial tires comprised 98.3 percent of shipments.
     Replacement Light Truck Tires Shipments: (Light truck 
tire replacement shipments designates all tire shipments sent for 
replacement purposes to the domestic tire market in the U.S. and 
includes all sizes/types of tires designed by the participants for 
fitment to light truck.) In 1980 radials comprised 9.9 percent of 
shipments and in 1999 radials comprised 94.5 percent of shipments.
     Production of Light Truck Tires: (Tires produced in US 
whether for domestic consumption or for export outside the United 
States--does not include P-metric tires). In 1980 radials comprised 
7.1 percent of production and in 1999 radials comprised 98.7 percent 
of production.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Radial tires are less susceptible than bias ply tires to most types 
of failures. Also, radial tire design resulted in significant 
improvements in tire performance compared with bias ply tires, thus 
making it easier for radial tires to comply with the requirements of 
FMVSS No. 109 than for bias tires.
    A bias passenger car tire carcass is typically made up of two or 
four plies of cord material that run from bead to bead at an angle of 
approximately 35 degrees to the centerline of the tire. Alternating 
plies are applied at alternating angles during tire manufacture so that 
the cord paths of alternating plies criss-cross. This type of 
construction provides a very strong, durable carcass for the tire. 
However, it has drawbacks. Because the ply cords criss-cross and all 
the cords are anchored to the beads, the carcass is stiff and 
relatively inflexible. This type of construction prevents different 
parts of the tire from acting independently of one another when forces 
are applied to the tire. As a result, a bias construction is 
susceptible to impact breaks because it does not easily absorb road 
irregularities.
    By comparison, a radial passenger car tire carcass is typically 
made up of one or two plies of cord material that run from bead to bead 
at an angle of approximately 90 degrees to the centerline of the tire. 
As a result, the cords do not criss-cross. Because the cords do not 
criss-cross and because the opposite ends of each cord are anchored to 
the beads at points that are directly opposite to each other, the 
radial tire carcass is very flexible. The radial tire is reinforced and 
stabilized by a belt that runs circumferentially around the tire under 
the tread. This construction allows the sidewalls to act independently 
of the belt and tread area when forces are applied to the tire. This 
``independent'' action is what allows the sidewalls to readily absorb 
road irregularities without overstressing the cords. Impact breaks 
caused by cord rupture do not occur in radial-ply passenger car tires. 
This ``independent'' action also allows two important things to happen 
during cornering: (1) The tread of a radial tire remains fully in 
contact with the road over the entire tread width, and (2) the ply 
cords and sidewall are able to absorb the cornering forces without 
exerting the twisting force on the beads that are exerted by bias 
constructions.
    These characteristics of a radial tire construction are what make 
the existing high speed test, endurance test, strength test \6\, and 
bead-unseating test appear to be ineffective in differentiating among 
today's radial tires with respect to these aspects of performance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \6\ The FMVSS 109 plunger energy or strength test was designed 
to evaluate the strength of the reinforcing materials in bias ply 
tires, typically rayon, nylon or polyester, and it continues to 
serve a purpose for these tires. However, a radial tire is not 
susceptible to the kind of failure for which this test was designed 
to prevent. The flexible sidewalls of radial tires easily absorb the 
shock of road irregularities.
    Because of the belt package, radial tires far exceed the 
strength requirements of the test and many times the plunger bottoms 
out on the rim instead of breaking the reinforcing materials in the 
radial tire. During the years 1996 through 1998 RMA members reported 
conducting nearly 19,000 plunger energy (strength) tests on radial 
tires. There were no reported failures.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

B. Safety Problems Associated With Tires

    Tire under-inflation, high ambient temperatures, and vehicle load 
are among the factors being considered in the ongoing evaluation of the 
radial tire failures that have occurred in recent years. Data 
concerning tire failure, blowouts, and rollovers are discussed below.
1. Population of Tire Related Crashes
    Several crash files contain information on ``general'' tire related 
problems that precipitate crashes. These files are the National 
Automotive Sampling System--Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS) \7\ 
and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).\8\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ For the NASS-CDS system, trained investigators collect data 
on a sample of tow-away crashes around the country. These data can 
be ``weighted up'' to national estimates. A NASS-CDS General Vehicle 
Form contains the following information: A critical pre-crash event, 
such as vehicle loss of control due to a blowout or flat tire. This 
category includes only part of the tire-related problems which cause 
crashes. This coding would only be used when the tire went flat or 
there was a blowout that caused a loss of control of the vehicle, 
resulting in a crash.
    \8\ In FARS, tire problems are noted after the crash, if they 
are noted at all. The FARS file does not indicate whether the tire 
problem caused the crash, influenced the severity of the crash, or 
just occurred during the crash. For example, some crashes may have 
been caused by a tire blowout, while in others the vehicle may have 
slid sideways and struck a curb, causing a flat tire which may or 
may not have influenced whether the vehicle experienced rollover. 
Thus, while an indication of a tire problem in the FARS file give 
some indication as to the potential magnitude of the tire problem in 
fatal crashes, it can neither be considered the lowest possible 
number because the tire might not have caused the crash, nor the 
highest number of cases because not all crashes with tire problems 
might have been coded by the police.

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

[[Page 10055]]

    NASS-CDS data for 1995 through 1998 indicate that there are an 
estimated 23,464 tow-away crashes per year caused by blowouts or flat 
tires.

 Estimated Annual Average Number (1995-98 NASS) and Rates of Blowouts or
                   Flat Tires Causing Tow-away Crashes
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Tire related    Percent tire
                                               cases          related
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Passenger Cars Total....................          10,169            0.31
    Rollover............................     1,837 (18%)            1.87
    Non-rollover........................     8,332 (82%)            0.26
Light Trucks Total......................          13,294            0.99
    Rollover............................     9,577 (72%)            6.88
    Non-rollover........................     3,717 (28%)            0.31
Light Vehicles Total....................          23,463            0.51
    Rollover............................    11,414 (49%)            4.81
    Non-rollover........................    12,049 (51%)            0.28
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Therefore, about one half of one percent of all crashes are caused 
by these tire problems. The rate of blowout-caused crashes for light 
trucks (0.99 percent) is more than three times the rate of those 
crashes for passenger cars (0.31 percent). Blowouts cause a much higher 
proportion of rollover crashes (4.81) than non-rollover crashes (0.28); 
and again more than three times the rate in light trucks (6.88 percent) 
than in passenger cars (1.87 percent).
    FARS data for 1995 through 1998 show that 1.10 percent of all light 
vehicles in fatal crashes were coded with tire problems. Light trucks 
had slightly higher rates of tire problems (1.20 percent) than 
passenger cars (1.04 percent). The annual average number of vehicles 
with tire problems in FARS was 535 (313 passenger cars and 222 light 
trucks).
2. Geographical and Seasonal Effects
    The agency further examined the FARS data to determine whether heat 
is a factor in tire problems. We examined two surrogates for heat: (1) 
The region of the U.S. in which the crash occurred, and (2) the season 
in which the crash occurred. The highest rates of tire problems 
occurred in light trucks in southern states in the summertime, followed 
by light trucks in northern states in the summertime, and then by 
passenger cars in southern states in the summertime. The lowest rates 
occurred in winter and fall.

      Geographical and Seasonal Analysis of Tire Problems (Percent of Vehicles) in FARS With Tire Problems
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                    All light
                                                             Passenger cars     Light trucks        vehicles
                                                                (percent)         (percent)         (percent)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Northern States:
    Winter................................................              1.01              0.80              0.94
    Spring................................................              1.12              1.01              1.08
    Summer................................................              0.98              1.46              1.15
    Fall..................................................              1.04              0.93              1.00
Southern States:
    Winter................................................              0.87              0.99              0.92
    Spring................................................              1.09              1.27              1.16
    Summer................................................              1.31              1.99              1.59
    Fall..................................................              0.89              1.07             1.00
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Winter = December, January, February; Spring = March, April, May; Summer = June, July, August; Fall = September,
  October, November.
Southern States = AZ, NM, OK, TX, AR, LA, KY, TN, NC, SC, GA, AL, MS, and FL; Northern States = all others.

    Based on these data, tires on light trucks appear to be more 
affected by higher ambient temperatures than tires on passenger cars.
3. Tire Problems by Tire Type and Light Truck Type
    The agency also examined tire problems in the NASS-CDS from 1992 to 
1999 by types of light trucks and vehicle size to determine whether LT 
tires used on light trucks exhibited more problems than P-metric tires. 
LT tires are used on vehicle classes identified for this analysis as 
Van Large B and Pickup Large B groups of vehicles. These groups of 
vehicles typically represent the 3/4 ton and 1-ton vans and pick-ups. 
P-metric tires are used on most of the other light trucks. The data 
indicate that the average percentage of light trucks in the NASS-CDS 
having a LT tire problem is 0.84 (10/1,186), while the average percent 
of light trucks having a P-metric tire problem is 0.47 percent (53/
11,226).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ Unweighted numbers are used because NASS data broken into 
small numbers of cells results in weighted numbers which do not 
appear logical.

[[Page 10056]]



     Tire Problems by Light Truck Vehicle Type 1992 to 1999 NASS-CDS
                            Unweighted Data 9
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                      No. of                  Percent of
                                    cases with   Total No.    cases with
         Light truck type             a tire      of cases      a tire
                                     problem                   problem
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Van--Compact.....................           11        2,125         0.52
Van--Large A.....................            3          431         0.70
Van--Large B.....................            4          501         0.80
Pickup--Compact..................           13        3,155         0.41
Pickup--Large A..................            7        1,849         0.38
Pickup--Large B..................            6          685         0.88
SUV--Compact.....................           16        3,147         0.51
SUV--Large.......................            3          519         0.58
                                  --------------------------------------
    Total........................           63       12,412        0.51
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Van--Large A group includes vehicles such as the Ford Econoline 150.

The Van--Large B group includes vehicles such as the Ford Econoline 250/
  350.
The Pickup--Large A group includes vehicles such as the Ford F 150.
The Pickup--Large B group includes vehicles such as the Ford F 250/350.

    These larger Pickups and vans, however, are also vehicles that 
carry heavier loads and are more likely to be more overloaded than 
lighter trucks. In addition, these heavier vehicles are often used at 
construction sites and may be more apt to encounter nail punctures and 
experience flat tires. Thus, there may be usage issues that increase 
the percentage of tire problems for these larger trucks, rather than 
exclusively a qualitative difference between P-metric and LT tires.
4. Crashes Indirectly Caused by Tire Problems
    While the agency has not attempted to estimate the extent to which 
improved tires would reduce the chance of having a flat tire it has 
looked at crashes indirectly caused by or involved with tire problems.
    The agency has identified several types of such crashes. For 
instance, if a driver stops his vehicle on the side of the road due to 
a flat tire, curious passing drivers often slow down to view the 
incident. This can cause congestion, potentially resulting in a rear 
impact involving two or more of the passing vehicles toward the rear of 
the congested traffic. Another crash type indirectly caused by tire 
problems involves tire repair on the shoulder of the road. Sometimes 
drivers repairing tires or seeking assistance due to tire problems are 
struck, as pedestrians, by other vehicles. These phenomena are not 
captured in NHTSA's data files. However, Pennsylvania, Washington, and 
Ohio have data files that allow for combining and search for codes for 
this phenomena; for instance, searching simultaneously for ``Flat tire 
or blowout'' and ``Playing or working on a vehicle'' and 
``Pedestrians.'' Our examination of these files for calendar year 1999 
for Ohio and Pennsylvania and 1996 for Washington showed the following 
information:

               State Data on Tire Problems and Pedestrians
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Ohio     Washington  Pennsylvania
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pedestrians Injured...............       3,685       2,068        5,226
Pedestrians Injured While Playing    50 (1.4%)   27 (1.3%)    56 (1.1%)
 or Working on Vehicle............
Pedestrians Injured While Working            0           2            0
 on Vehicle with Tire Problem.....
                                   -------------------------------------
    Total crashes.................     385,704     140,215      144,169
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The combined percentage of total crashes with tire problems in 
these three states (3,100/670,088 = 0.46) is consistent with the NASS-
CDS data percentage of 0.51 percent. The portion of pedestrians coded 
as being injured while working on a vehicle with tire problems is 2/
10,979 = 0.018 percent. Applying this to the estimated number of 
pedestrians injured annually across the U.S. (85,000 from NASS-GES) 
results in an estimated 15 pedestrians injured per year. The agency, 
however, does not have data to estimate how many pedestrian injuries 
could be reduced by having better tires.

C. Implications of Changes in U.S. Light Vehicle Market

    Sales of light trucks have risen steadily for over the past 20 
years and now account for almost half of the U.S. light vehicle 
market--more than twice their market share as recently as 1983. 
(Industries in Transition, 1/01/00; Journal of Transportation and 
Statistics, December 2000.) While 9.0 million passenger cars were sold 
in 2000, the consumer preference for light truck vehicles continued to 
grow, with sales reaching approximately 8.4 million units, just short 
of parity with passenger car sales. (Automotive News 2001 Market Data 
Book). According to analysts and manufacturers, sales of light trucks 
are expected to surpass sales of cars by approximately 100,000 units 
this year and the light truck segment is likely to reach ``around 60%'' 
before stabilizing. (Auto & Truck Manufacturers Industry Report, 5/15/
00).
    In addition to purchasing more SUVs, Americans have shifted toward 
a significantly higher use of minivans, pickup trucks, and SUVs for 
personal travel. (Journal of Transportation and Statistics, December 
2000). The 1995 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) data 
set suggests that the average light duty truck (LDT) (pickup trucks, 
SUVs, and minivans) is used over longer distances and with more

[[Page 10057]]

people aboard than passenger cars.\10\ Additionally, SUVs are popular 
for long distance weekend travel.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \10\ Passenger cars average 12,258 miles per year during the 
first 6 years after purchase, while light trucks average 12,683 
miles per year during the same time period. NPTS data also indicates 
that minivans make the most person-trips per day, followed by SUVs, 
passenger cars, and finally pickups. SUVs are estimated to make, on 
average, 4.6% more person-trips per day than passenger cars.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Approximately 90 percent of these light trucks use passenger car 
(P-metric) tires. The other 10 percent use load range C, D, or E tires 
which are LT tires and are typically used on heavier light trucks with 
a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) between 6,000 and 10,000 
pounds.\11\ Sales growth of heavier light trucks, those that have GVWRs 
above 6,000 pounds, increased at a much faster rate than their lighter 
counterparts, with larger SUVs (6,000-10,000 pounds GVWR) showing an 
average increase of 38 percent annually between 1990 and 1998.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ The net impact on original equipment passenger car tire 
shipments in 1999 reflects an increase of 3.9 million units for a 
record total of 61 million units, or a 6.8 percent growth over 
1998's figure of 57.1 million units. Continued growth in the sales 
and production of light truck vehicles also drove the number of 
original equipment light truck (LT) tires to a record high of 
approximately 8.4 million units or a 25.2 percent increase over 
1998's figures. (RMA 2000 Yearbook)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

V. Agency Response to Safety Problem

A. Relationship Between TREAD Act and Tire Harmonization (Work in UN/
ECE's World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29))

    Prior to this rulemaking, NHTSA embarked on a program of global 
harmonization for light vehicle tire standards under the auspices of 
the United Nations/Economic Commission for Europe's (UN/ECE) World 
Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29).\12\ NHTSA, 
within the WP.29's Working Party on Brakes and Running Gear (GRRF),\13\ 
has been working cooperatively with other countries to develop a global 
tire standard that could better assess the safety performance of modern 
tires.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ Formerly, ``Working Party on the Construction of Vehicles 
(WP.29).'' The Forum's website is 
http://www.unece.org/trans/main/welcwp29.htm
    \13\ The GRRF is a Working Party within WP.29 which is 
responsible for developing draft global technical regulations on 
brakes, tires, wheels, and other chassis components of motor 
vehicles.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In July 1999, NHTSA participated in a GRRF meeting in London, 
England which initiated deliberations to develop a global technical 
regulation for tires with other countries. An industry developed 
standard, Global Tire Standard 2000 for New Pneumatic Car Tires (GTS-
2000),\14\ was used as a basis for initial discussions on harmonization 
at that meeting. GTS-2000 would substitute a single high-speed test for 
the four performance tests in FMVSS No. 109 for most radial tires.\15\ 
More specifically, GTS-2000 would replace the current FMVSS No. 109 
high speed test with the high-speed test required by ECE-R30 (the 
European tire regulation for tires used on light passenger vehicles), 
including temporary spares. It would also limit the application of the 
other three tests currently required by FMVSS No. 109, namely the 
strength test, the bead unseating test, and the endurance test, to bias 
tires and low speed rated radial tires because industry believes that 
these three tests have relevance to bias and bias-belted tires, but 
little, if any, relevance to radial tires, with the single exception of 
the endurance test for low speed (160 km/h/99 mph, or less) radial 
tires.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ On January 25, 1999, the Rubber Manufacturers Association 
(RMA), along with five other petitioners, submitted a petition 
requesting the agency to begin a rulemaking proceeding to amend 
FMVSS No. 109 by adopting a new standard. According to the 
petitioners, GTS-2000 is a suggestion for a harmonized standard that 
the tire industry believes incorporates the best safety practices, 
including those from the U.S., Europe, Japan, China, and Australia. 
On June 8, 1999, NHTSA granted this petition.
    \15\ As described by RMA, GTS-2000 lists the following test 
criteria: (1) Physical dimensions for overall width and outer 
diameter; (2) strength test (plunger energy) for bias ply and bias-
belted tires; (3) bead unseating resistance tests for bias-ply and 
bias-belted tires; (4) low speed (not less than 50 mph) endurance 
tests for bias-ply and bias belted tires plus all radial tires with 
a speed symbol of Q or below; and (5) high speed endurance tests for 
all tires (bias-ply, bias-belted, and radial). In addition, it 
contains labeling requirements covering tire pressure, load rating 
and tire construction.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Since the July 1999 meeting, the GRRF has been considering a draft 
global technical regulation (GTR). Prior to the enactment of the TREAD 
Act, tentative consensus within an ad hoc tire harmonization working 
group of the GRRF concerning the draft GTR had been reached on the 
following issues: (1) To adopt the ECE R30 high speed test 
methodology\16\ in place of the FMVSS 109 high speed test, (2) to keep 
the current FMVSS 109 resistance-to-bead unseating test until NHTSA 
develops an alternative that is more appropriate for radial tires, and 
(3) to develop an optional requirement for testing wet grip. Other 
issues also under discussion in the ad hoc group prior to the TREAD Act 
included: (a) the U.S.'s suggestion to lower the inflation pressures in 
and increase the duration of the high speed test (current ECE R30 
test), (b) the U.S.'s suggestion to agree on the need for tire labeling 
requirements that are unique to the U.S., such as maximum inflation 
pressure, and UTQG consumer information, (c) the U.S.'s suggestion to 
identify requirements that should be included as optional requirements, 
(d) assigning to the UN the responsibility for tire plant code 
registration for a global standard, and (e) the U.S.'s suggestion to 
increase the ambient temperature for the high speed test.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ The ECE Regulation 30 includes a single performance 
requirement, the high speed test, which is conducted at a speed 
close to and up to the rated speed of the tire. The methodology used 
in ECE R30 and suggested by the tire industry in GTS-2000 for tire 
harmonization determines the test speed based on the tire's speed 
symbol rated speed. The following chart illustrates the rated speed 
in km/h for each speed symbol.
    Speed symbol and Rated Speed--km/h:
        F--80
        G--90
        J--100
        K--110
        L--120
        M--130
        N--140
        P--150
        Q--160
        R--170
        S--180
        T--190
        U--200
        H--210
        V--240
        W--270
        Y--300
        ZR-->300
    These speeds range from a minimum of 140 km/h (88 mph) to 300 
km/h (188 mph) for W, Y categories. The total test time is 50 
minutes. The inflation pressures for the ECE R30 high speed test are 
typically much higher than those recommended by vehicle 
manufacturers for vehicle operation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In a February 2001 submission to the docket (Docket No. NHTSA-2000-
8011), the Chairman of the GRRF Tire Harmonization Working Group 
recommended on behalf of the GRRF that NHTSA adopt a draft text that 
reflects the current state of deliberations for developing a harmonized 
tire standard.

B. Submissions to NHTSA Tire Upgrade Docket (Docket No. NHTSA-2000-
8011)

    In September 2000, NHTSA opened a docket, NHTSA-2000-8011, entitled 
``Tire Testing--Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS 109).'' 
The purpose of this docket was to collect tire test data and receive 
feedback on its high speed and endurance performance testing matrices.
    As of the issuance of this document, comments and recommendations 
from 7 entities have been received in the docket. Substantive comments 
and recommendations in response to NHTSA's testing matrices are 
discussed below. Additionally, Toyota Motor Company (Toyota) submitted 
a copy of its Air Loss Test Procedure.

[[Page 10058]]

1. RMA December 2000 Testing Protocol
    In December 2000, RMA presented to NHTSA a test protocol (RMA 2000) 
that was designed and administered with the participation of the 
following tire companies: Bridgestone/Firestone, Continental/General, 
Cooper Tire and Rubber, Michelin, Goodyear, Pirelli, Yokohama. The test 
protocol is divided into the following principal parts: Passenger Car 
Tire High Speed, Passenger Car Tire Endurance, Light Truck High Speed, 
and Light Truck Tire Endurance. One hundred thirty-two tests on 
approximately 900 tires were included in this protocol. A brief summary 
of RMA 2000's conclusions and recommendations are discussed below.
a. Passenger Tires--High Speed Test
    RMA 2000 concluded that

    [t]he SAE test [J1561] conditions were found to be the most 
consistent discriminators required for completion of the rated speed 
within the customary one-hour duration.\17\ Test inflation pressure 
had the greatest effect in determining completion of the rated 
speed. Maximum load was also shown to have an effect on performance, 
although not as great as inflation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ The SAE J1561 Test parameters, which are also consistent 
with International Standards Organization (ISO) 10191 testing 
conditions, are as follows:
    (1) Test speed and duration: (ITS = Tire's rated speed minus 40 
km/h), 6 speed steps, each 10 min in duration: (1) 0 to ITS, (2) 
ITS, (3) ITS + 10 km/h, (4) ITS + 20 km/h, (5) ITS + 30 km/h, (6) 
ITS + 40 km/h.
    (2) Inflation pressure: 240, 260, 280, 300, or 320 kPa based on 
speed rating.
    (3) Load: 80 percent.
    (4) Ambient Temperature: 38 deg. C.

    RMA 2000 recommended that the agency revise the High Speed 
Performance test in FMVSS No. 109 to reflect the conditions found in 
SAE J1561:
    (1) Test speed and duration: (Initial Test Speed (ITS) = Tire's 
rated speed minus 40 km/h), 6 speed steps, each 10 min in duration: (1) 
0 to ITS, (2) ITS, (3) ITS + 10 km/h, (4) ITS + 20 km/h, (5) ITS + 30 
km/h, (6) ITS + 40 km/h.\18\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \18\ The following chart illustrates the rated speed in km/h for 
each speed symbol. ``ZR'' is an open ended speed category for tires 
with a maximum speed capability above 240 km/h, but is also used 
specifically for tires having a maximum speed capability above 300 
km/h.
    Speed symbol and rated speed--km/h:
        F--80
        G--90
        J--100
        K--110
        L--120
        M--130
        N--140
        P--150
        Q--160
        R--170
        S--180
        T--190
        U--200
        H--210
        V--240
        W--270
        Y--300
        ZR--> 300
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    (2) Inflation pressures (kPa): 240 for speed rating through N, 260 
for P, Q, R, & S, 280 for T, U, & H, 300 for V & Z, 320 for W & Y.
    (3) Load and ambient temperature: 80 percent of maximum rated load, 
38 deg.C  3 deg.C.
b. Passenger Tires--Endurance Test
    RMA concluded that ``the results seem to indicate that speed, 
followed closely by inflation pressure, are key determinants affecting 
the number of hours to failure.''
    RMA recommended revising the Endurance test in FMVSS No. 109 to 
include the following parameters:
    (1) Inflation pressure: 180 kPa.
    (2) Test speed: constant at 120 Km/h.
    (3) Duration and load: 8 hours at 85 percent of maximum rated load, 
8 hours at 90 percent of maximum rated load, 8 hours at 100 percent of 
maximum rated load.
    (4) Ambient temperature: 38 deg.C  3 deg.C.
c. Light Truck Tires--High Speed Test
    RMA concluded that

    [f]or load range C tires an analysis of the results shows the 
maximum load conditions of 90 percent to be more realistic than the 
80 percent. Also, it appears that the inflation pressure of 350 kPa 
is the most suitable for this test. For load range E tires the data 
showed that conditions of 90 percent maximum load and 550 kPa 
pressure, while not particularly discerning for the Q speed rated 
tires did become much more rigorous for the R speed rated tires (no 
S rated tires were included in the load range E tests).

    RMA recommended that NHTSA incorporate a test similar to SAE J1633 
or ISO 10454 into its light truck tire standard, using maximum 
inflation pressure, limited to tires marked ``LT'' or ``C'' and load 
range A-E or Load Index 124 or below. The parameters are as follows:
    (1) Speed and duration (ITS = Tire's rated speed -20 km/h): 3-speed 
steps: 0 to ITS for 10 min, ITS for 10 min, ITS + 10 km/h for 10 min, 
ITS + 20 km/h for 30 min.
    (2) Inflation pressure corresponding to maximum load.
    (3) Load: 90 percent of maximum.
    (4) Ambient temperature: 38 deg.C 
+/-3 deg.C.
d. Light Truck Tires--Endurance Test
    RMA 2000 concluded that

    [a]s with passenger car endurance tests, speed is deemed to be 
the greatest determinate of tire failure, followed closely by 
inflation pressure * * * In the FMVSS 119 test it wasn't until load 
limits became unrealistically high that tires begin to fail. 
However, in the four test protocols using combinations of the test 
conditions cited above, average hours to failure were more 
realistically demonstrated when testing at 120 km/h using the 
inflation pressures corresponding to the maximum load rating marked 
on the tire (350 kPa for load range C, and 550 kPa for load range 
E).

    RMA 2000 recommended revising the light truck tire standard to 
include the following test parameters:
    (1) Inflation pressure: at pressure corresponding to the maximum 
load rating marked on the tire.
    (2) Speed: constant at 120 Km/h.
    (3) Duration and load: Load range A, B, C, & D for 8 hours at 75 
percent of maximum rated load, 8 hours at 97 percent of maximum rated 
load, and 8 hours at 114 percent of maximum rated load. Load Range E 
for 8 hours at 70 percent of maximum rated load, 8 hours at 88 percent 
of maximum rated load, and 8 hours at 106 percent of maximum rated 
load.
    (4) Ambient Temperature: 38 deg.C +/-3 deg.C.
2. Other Substantive Submissions
    In February 2001, Michelin presented its suggested Endurance 
Certification Test to NHTSA. This is an endurance test for long term 
durability, which evaluates the following factors: belt edge stress, 
long-term cyclic fatigue and compound evolution. The following table 
illustrates the parameters of this test:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                         Metric passenger car                        Light truck
                                  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                      Load range
                                    Standard load      Extra load   --------------------------------------------
                                                                          B          C          D          E
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Test Temperature ( deg.F)........               100+/-5
                                                            100+/-5

[[Page 10059]]


Speed (mph)......................                  60
                                                              60
Filling Gas......................             50%O2/50%N2
                                                          50%O2/50%N2
Load (lbs)--% Max Single.........                 111                142         112        98         92
Initial Pressure (psi)--Regulated  40               46               57          57         65         80
Regulated........................  ...............  ...............  ..........  .........  .........  .........
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In May 2001, Michelin supplemented its requested endurance test 
with a discussion of the influence of its long term durability 
endurance test variables on tire endurance and crack propagation.
    Michelin has also recommended replacing the current high speed test 
with ISO 10191. ISO 10191 contains test variables substantially similar 
to those in SAE J1561 and those recommended by RMA 2000 for the high 
speed test for passenger tires.
    In a November 2000 submission to the docket, GM provided the 
following general comments on the first phase of NHTSA's tire testing 
matrix: (1) Increased high speed capability will result directly in 
compromises with mass, fuel economy (rolling resistance) and ride 
comfort, (2) correlation of laboratory tests with performance of tires 
in the field environment is necessary and tires with known acceptable 
field performance should serve as reference to acceptable performance 
on such laboratory tests, (3) tests that take the tire to failure can 
always be developed but may not indicate poor performance and tire 
failures on these tests should not be interpreted as an indication of 
unacceptable performance, (4) the definition of failure for these tests 
should be clarified, and (5) it is recommended that temperature 
monitoring be included in the testing.
    GM also submitted a number of comments on NHTSA's test matrices. 
These comments, specific to NHTSA's preliminary test parameters, are 
not discussed in detail here, but are available for review in the 
docket.

C. NHTSA Tire Testing at Standards Testing Lab (STL)

    Shortly after the enactment of the TREAD Act, the agency initiated 
tire testing at Standards Testing Labs (STL) in November 2000 to 
evaluate the high-speed performance, endurance performance, and low 
inflation pressure performance of a limited number of current 
production tires. The agency developed a test matrix which focused on 
the five main parameters currently used in tire testing under FMVSS 
Nos. 109 and 119: load, inflation pressure, speed, duration, and 
ambient temperature. Copies of the test matrix and testing results for 
P-metric tires and for LT tires is available in the docket (see the 
Tire Test Matrix in NHTSA Docket No. 2000-8011-1).
1. High Speed Testing
    The high speed tests included a wide range of values for the test 
parameters to facilitate evaluation of the performance of a variety of 
tires used on light vehicles. A baseline high speed test was performed 
on each of the tire brands using the GTS-2000 high speed test for P-
metric tires and FMVSS No. 109 for the LT tires.\19\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \19\ LT tires were not included in GTS-2000 nor are they 
required to comply with the high speed test in FMVSS No. 119.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Phase I test matrix included loads of 80, 90, and 100 percent 
\20\; inflation pressures of 180 kPa, 210 kPa and 240 kPa; durations at 
each speed step of 10 minutes, 20 minutes and 30 minutes; and four 
speeds steps beginning at an initial test speed (ITS) 30 km/h below the 
rated speed of the tire, and increasing in 10-km/h increments up to the 
rated speed (ITS + 30km/h). Some tests were conducted to failure, 
beyond the rated speed of the tires, to assess the performance margin 
for the tires. In this phase of testing, nine P-metric tire brands and 
three LT tire brands were tested using 28 tires per brand, one tire for 
each of the 28 high speed tests performed. The total number of tires 
tested to the high speed test in this phase was 336 tires.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \20\ As stated earlier in this document, load percentages, 
unless otherwise specified, are based on the sidewall maximum rated 
load.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The test results from the Phase I tests show that all but one of 
the tires completed the baseline high speed tests up to their rated 
speed without failure. The results of the matrix tests indicate that 
all the parameters have an impact on tire failure in the high-speed 
test; however, a decrease in inflation pressure appeared to have the 
greatest impact on time to failure in the high-speed test. For example, 
at an inflation pressure of 180 kPa using 20-minute speed intervals, 
the results of the P-metric tire tests indicate 3 of 9 tire failures, 
while at 240 kPa, under similar test conditions, all 9 tires completed 
the high speed test. The data also indicate that RMA 2000's suggested 
10-minute test duration at each speed appears to be too short to 
properly evaluate the high speed performance of a tire. In the agency's 
testing, few failures occurred at the 10-minute steps, and all tires 
tested were able to complete many of the tests conducted using 10-
minute speed intervals. In general, the most stringent mix of 
parameters was 100 percent load, low inflation pressure of 180 kPa, 
combined with the longest test duration for each speed step, 30 
minutes. This test condition resulted in only one of nine P-metric 
tires completing the high speed test. A similar test condition for the 
test on three LT tires resulted in one tire completing the high speed 
test. The agency notes that these severe test conditions enabled us to 
evaluate the high speed performance limits of some current production 
tires.
    The agency conducted additional high speed testing using a Phase II 
matrix. This second phase of the high-speed testing included 12 tire 
brands (8 P-metric and 4 LT tires) with a sample of five tires per test 
per brand. The test parameters included loads at 80 and 85 percent; 
inflation pressures at 210 kPa and 220 kPa; duration of 20 minutes; and 
speeds similar to the ITS plus 10, 20, 30 km/h method used in Phase I, 
and also three fixed speeds of 160, 170, and 180 km/h for 30 minutes at 
each speed step. For the LT tires tested to the high-speed test, the 
parameters were similar as those used for P-metric tires, except that 
the inflation pressures were changed to reflect the higher maximum 
inflation pressures on those tires.
    The test results from the second phase testing demonstrated that 
there is variability in the manufacturing quality of tires since a mix 
of passes and failures occurred within the 5 samples tested for each 
brand.
2. Endurance Testing
    The endurance testing was also comprised of two phases of matrix 
testing. The baseline endurance test used for the P-metric tires was 
the one

[[Page 10060]]

in GTS-2000 for radial tires rated ``Q'' or below. For LT tires, the 
FMVSS No. 119 endurance test was used as the baseline. The agency also 
conducted endurance testing with load combinations of 100/115/125 
percent load, test speeds of 120 and 140 km/h, inflation pressures of 
160 kPa and 200 kPa for P-metric tires, and for a duration of 50 hours. 
Similar parameters were used for LT tires, except with different 
inflation pressures since these tires have higher maximum inflation 
pressures than P-metric tires.
    All the tires completed the baseline endurance tests without any 
failures. The results of the matrix tests for endurance indicate that 
the higher test speed, 140 km/h, had a large impact on the time to 
failure, even at the higher inflation pressure of 200 kPa. The high 
load percentages also contributed significantly to the short time to 
failure, especially for some of the LT tires.
    The second phase of the endurance testing included test parameters 
closer to those that the agency is proposing in this NPRM. The 
parameters were as follows: lower loads of 100/110/115 percent combined 
with a test speed of 120 km/h at 180 kPa inflation pressure for a 
duration of 50 hours; higher loads of 100/115/125 percent combined with 
a lower test speed of 100 km/h at 180 kPa inflation pressure for 50 
hours.
    The results of the second phase of endurance testing indicate that 
fewer failures occurred in Phase II testing with the combination of 
high load (100/115/125 percent) and lower speed (100 km/h) than under 
the parameters of Phase 1 testing. In Phase 2, 7 of the 8 P-metric 
tires completed the test without any failures in any of the 5 samples 
of each brand tested. The 4 LT tires tested also performed well with 
one failure in the five samples in 3 of the 4 brands tested. One brand 
completed the test with all 5 tires completing the 50-hour test. The 
test conditions that produced the most failures in the P-metric tires 
were the higher load combinations at 120 km/h. These conditions, 
surprisingly, did not produce many failures in the LT tires tested.
3. Low Inflation Pressure Testing
    The agency also conducted a test at low inflation pressures (140 
kPa (20 psi) inflation pressure for P-metric tires), at a speed of 120 
km/h (75 mph) for a duration of 90 minutes, on the same tires (2 
samples of each of the 12 brands) that successfully completed the 
endurance test. The purpose of this test was to evaluate tire 
performance at a low inflation pressure threshold level, 20 psi, being 
proposed for tire pressure monitoring systems for light vehicles.\21\ 
Similar tests were performed using the LT tires, but at low inflation 
pressures values commensurate with 58 percent of their maximum 
inflation pressure. These low threshold values were selected based on 
the lowest inflation pressure at which a tire load is provided by the 
tire industry standardizing bodies. The test results indicate that all 
24 tires tested completed the 90 minute test low inflation pressure 
test without failure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \21\ In its recent TPMS NPRM, Docket No. NHTSA-2000-8572, the 
agency proposed two options for activation of the warning lamp: 1) 
20 percent below the recommended cold inflation pressure or 140 kPa 
(20 psi) whichever is higher; and 2) 25 percent below the 
recommended cold inflation pressure or 140 kPa (20psi), whichever is 
higher.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

4. Conclusions From Testing Results
    In summary, the results of the high speed and endurance tests 
indicated that the agency can develop and propose test requirements 
that are realistic in terms of the test parameters, yet more stringent 
than the current FMVSS No. 109, FMVSS No. 119 requirements, European 
Regulation ECE R 30, GTS 2000, and RMA 2000. The proposed test 
requirements differentiate tires with better high speed and endurance 
performance from those with lesser performance. The low pressure 
validation tests indicate that tires that were able to successfully 
complete the endurance testing can also complete an additional 90-
minute test at a low inflation pressure, 140 kPa for P-metric tires, 
thus providing an adequate safeguard for consumers to take corrective 
action when the low pressure warning lamp proposed under the tire 
pressure monitoring system rulemaking is activated at a 
``significantly'' under-inflated level.

VI. Agency Proposal

A. Summary of Proposal

    The agency is proposing a single standard for light vehicle tires, 
FMVSS No. 139, New Pneumatic Tires for Light Vehicles, which would 
require light vehicle tires to meet a high-speed test, an endurance 
test, a low inflation pressure performance test, a resistance-to-bead 
unseating test, a road hazard impact/strength test, and an accelerated 
aging test. This standard would require tires for passenger cars, 
multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses and trailers with a 
gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) 
or less, manufactured on or after November 1, 2003, to comply with the 
test requirements. Therefore, this proposal is applicable to LT tires 
up to load range E.\22\ The following chart compares the types of test 
requirements that currently exist, those that have been suggested by 
third parties, and those are being proposed by this agency:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \22\ This load range is typically used on large SUVs, vans, and 
trucks.

                       Table 1.--Comparison of Types of Tire Performance Requirements in Various Existing and Draft Tire Standards
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                                                          Proposed FMVSS
              Tests                   FMVSS 109        FMVSS 119      GRRF Draft GTR      GTS-2000         RMA 2000         ECE R30            139
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
High Speed.......................               X   ...............             X *       X                 X                X                X
Endurance........................               X                X              X *             X **                X   ...............               X
Low pressure performance.........  ...............  ...............  ...............  ...............  ...............  ...............               X
Strength; or Road Hazard Impact..               X                X   ...............  ...............  ...............  ...............               X
Bead Unseating...................               X   ...............           X ***   ...............  ...............  ...............               X
Accelerated Aging................  ...............  ...............  ...............  ...............  ...............  ...............              X
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Endurance test for radial tires rated ``Q'' and below. Identical testing parameters as FMVSS No. 109 Endurance Test.
** Endurance test for radial tires rated ``Q'' and below.
*** Identical testing parameters as FMVSS No. 109 Bead Unseating Test.
 Testing parameters have not been agreed upon by the ad hoc working group.


[[Page 10061]]

    Both the proposed High Speed Test and the Endurance test contain 
testing parameters (ambient temperature, load, inflation pressure, 
speed, and duration) that make the tests more stringent than those 
tests currently found in FMVSS Nos. 109 and 119, as well as the tests 
suggested by industry. Most significantly, the proposed High Speed test 
specifies test speeds (140, 150 and 160 km/h (88, 94, and 100 mph)) 
substantially higher than those specified in FMVSS No. 109 (120, 128, 
136 km/h (75, 80, 85 mph)). Likewise, the proposed Endurance Test 
specifies a test speed 50% faster (120 km/h (75 mph)) than that 
currently specified in FMVSS 109 (80km/h (50 mph)), as well as a 
duration 6 hours longer (40 hours total) than that currently specified 
in FMVSS 109 (34 hours total). At the specified test speed (120 km/h), 
the Proposed Endurance Test mileage (3,000) is almost double the 
mileage that a tire endures under the current Endurance Test (1,700 
miles at 80 km/h).
    The proposal also contains two alternative Low Inflation Pressure 
tests which seek to ensure a minimum level of performance safety in 
tires when they are underinflated to 140 kPa. The agency requests 
comments on which test is more appropriate to be included in the new 
standard.
    In place of the current strength test in FMVSS No. 109, the agency 
proposes that the new standard contain a Road Hazard Impact test which 
is modeled after a SAE recommended practice. This test, which simulates 
a tire impacting a road hazard, such a pothole or curb, provides both a 
more stringent and more real world test than the FMVSS No. 109 
``plunger test.''
    The proposal would also replace the current FMVSS No. 109 Bead 
Unseating Test with a new Bead Unseating test which is based on a test 
currently used by Toyota. Industry has previously recommended to the 
agency that the current bead unseating test be deleted from the 
standard because radial tires are easily able to satisfy the test. 
Results from the agency's 1997-1998 rollover testing, however, provide 
a strong rationale for upgrading, rather than deleting, the bead 
unseating requirement in FMVSS No. 109. The Toyota test uses test 
forces more stringent than those in current FMVSS No. 109 which were 
developed for bias ply tires and are typically not stringent enough for 
radial tires.
    To address the deterioration of tire performance caused by aging, 
the proposal contains three alternatives for an Aging Effects Tests. 
These tests, the Adhesion (Peel) Test, Michelin's Long-term Durability 
Endurance test, and Oven Aging all seek to expose tires to the type of 
failures experienced by consumers at 40,000 kilometers or beyond. The 
agency requests comments on which test is most appropriate to be 
included in the new standard.
    The proposal would also revise FMVSS Nos. 110 and 120 to reflect 
the applicability of the new standard and would revise certain of the 
tests in FMVSS Nos. 117 and 129 to ensure that all light vehicle tires 
are required to comply with the identical minimum performance 
requirements. Lastly, the proposal discusses NHTSA's ongoing and future 
Road Hazard Impact Test and Bead Unseating Test research plans, the 
lead time for implementation of the new tire standard, the use of 
shearography analysis, and the revision of the requirements for the 
test speeds in UTQG Temperature Grading Requirement to mirror those in 
the proposed High Speed Test.
    NHTSA believes that the proposed upgraded standard would specify 
more stringent and real-world, yet practicable, tests that would 
provide a higher level of operation safety and performance for tires on 
today's light vehicles.

B. Applicability

    FMVSS No. 139 would apply to new pneumatic tires for use on motor 
vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less, manufactured after 1975, 
except for motorcycles. Given the increasing consumer preference for 
light truck use for passenger purposes, the agency is proposing that 
the safety requirements for passenger car tires also be made applicable 
to LT tires (load range C, D, and E) used on light trucks.
    Currently, the performance requirements for LT tires in FMVSS No. 
119 are less stringent than the requirements for P-metric tires in 
FMVSS No. 109. LT tires are required to comply with a strength test and 
a low speed endurance test, but are not required to be tested to a high 
speed performance test or a resistance-to-bead unseating test as 
required under FMVSS No. 109. However, LT tires are increasingly used 
in the same type of on-road service as P-metric tires on light 
vehicles. Further, recent sales data for heavier light trucks indicate 
that the use of these tires on passenger vehicles will continue to 
increase in the near future.
    NHTSA is not proposing to require that FMVSS No. 139 apply to 
motorcycle tires because motorcycle tires are of a design and 
construction unlike the types of vehicle tires that would be subject to 
the proposed standard (e.g., tread, load carrying capacity) and 
motorcycle tires still often use inner tubes. Further, the agency is 
not currently aware of any safety problems associated with motorcycle 
tires.
    NHTSA is also not proposing to require that the new standard be 
applicable to tires beyond load range E, which are typically used on 
medium (10,001-26,000 lbs. GVWR) and heavy (greater than 26,001 lbs. 
GVWR) vehicles, and temporary spare tires,\23\ for two reasons. This 
rulemaking is required by the TREAD Act, and must be completed by June 
2002. To meet this statutory deadline, the agency has limited its tire 
upgrade research and analysis to conventional tires for light vehicles. 
The issues associated with upgrading performance standards for tires on 
medium and heavy vehicles and temporary spare tires are different from 
the issues associated with upgrading performance standards for 
conventional tires on light vehicles. For example, medium and heavy 
vehicles are equipped with tires that are much larger and have higher 
pressure levels than the tires used on light vehicles. Temporary spare 
tires are smaller, have higher inflation pressures, and are intended 
for shorter distance and lower speed driving than conventional light 
vehicle tires. Given the TREAD Act deadline on this rulemaking, the 
agency does not have the time to study and analyze sufficiently the 
different issues presented by medium and heavy vehicle tires and 
temporary spare tires. NHTSA will examine these types of tires after we 
have completed this rulemaking.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \23\ For the purposes of this notice, a temporary spare tire is 
a compact tire intended for temporary use. It is typically labeled 
for limited durations and speeds.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

C. Proposed Test Procedures

1. High Speed Test
    NHTSA proposes that the High Speed test be conducted using the 
following five parameters:
    (1) Ambient Temperature: 40 deg.C (104 deg.F).
    (2) Load: 85 percent.
    (3) Inflation Pressure: 220 kPa (32 psi) for standard P-metric 
tires; 320 kPa (46 psi), 410 kPa (60 psi), 500 kPa (73 psi), for LT 
tires load range C, D and E, respectively.
    (4) Speed: 140, 150, 160 km/h (88, 94, 100 mph).
    (5) Duration: 30 minutes for each speed.
    A tire complies with the proposed requirements if, at the end of 
the high speed test, there is no visual evidence of tread, sidewall, 
ply, cord, inner liner, or bead separation, chunking, broken cords, 
cracking, or open splices, and the

[[Page 10062]]

tire pressure is not less than the initial test pressure.
    The agency proposes a high speed test with three pre-selected 
speeds. This testing methodology is different from that in two 
alternatives which were considered by the agency: (1) GTS-2000, and (2) 
a high speed test using identical parameters to those proposed above, 
except that the test speeds are based on the rated speed of the tire 
(initial test speed (ITS), ITS + 10, ITS + 20, ITS + 30) for durations 
of 20 minutes at each speed step with a 10-minute warm-up from 0 km/h-
ITS.\24\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \24\ Analysis of the results of the NHTSA's high speed testing 
at STL indicate that less than 25 percent of the p-metric tires 
would have failed the second alternative (3 of 8 p-metric brands had 
at least one failure in the five samples tested and for LT tires 
there was a 5% failure rate in the 5 tire brands tested).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The methodology suggested by the tire industry in GTS-2000 for tire 
harmonization and the second alternative determines the test speed 
based on the tire's speed symbol rated speed. The following chart 
illustrates the rated speed in km/h for each speed symbol.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Rated speed--
                      Speed symbol                             km/h
------------------------------------------------------------------------
F.......................................................              80
G.......................................................              90
J.......................................................             100
K.......................................................             110
L.......................................................             120
M.......................................................             130
N.......................................................             140
P.......................................................             150
Q.......................................................             160
R.......................................................             170
S.......................................................             180
T.......................................................             190
U.......................................................             200
H.......................................................             210
V.......................................................             240
W.......................................................             270
Y.......................................................             300
ZR......................................................           > 300
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The initial test speed (ITS) in GTS-2000 is the rated speed of the 
tire minus 40 km/h. The test is conducted at the following speed steps: 
ITS, ITS+10 km/h, ITS+20 km/h, ITS+30 km/h and ITS+40 km/h. The final 
speed step, ITS+40 km/h, is identical to the rated speed of the tire. 
Similarly, the ITS in the second alternative is the rated speed of the 
tire minus 30 km/h. The test is conducted at the following speed steps: 
ITS, ITS+10 km/h, ITS+20 km/h, and ITS+30 km/h, with the final speed 
step being identical to the rate speed of the tire. Therefore, under 
both alternatives, each tire with a different speed rating is tested at 
different speeds during the high speed test.
    Historically, the agency establishes uniform minimum performance 
requirements for its safety standards for the item of motor vehicle 
equipment. Testing for compliance using the tire's rated speed differs 
from that philosophy since it does not establish a single absolute 
minimum requirement for all tires, but establishes a relative 
requirement based on each tire's maximum design capabilities.
    The agency's proposal, based on pre-selected test speeds and 
independent of the rated speed of the tire, establishes the same 
minimum requirement for all tires, regardless of the designed level of 
performance. We believe that such a methodology is equitable for all 
tire manufacturers and does not impose higher safety standard 
requirements on a tire with a higher level of performance.
    The following table illustrates an at-a-glance comparison of the 
other standards and suggestions discussed in this document.\25\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \25\ FMVSS No. 119 does not currently include a high speed test 
for LT tires with a rim diameter above 14.5 inches.

                                                          Table 2.--High Speed Test Comparison
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
          Test parameters                   FMVSS 109               GTS 2000                RMA 2000                ECE 30           Proposed FMVSS 139
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ambient ( deg.C)...................  38....................  25....................  38...................  255......  40
Load (%):
    P-metric.......................  88....................  80....................  80...................  80...................  85
    LT.............................    ....................    ....................  90...................    ...................
Inflation Pressure (kPa):
    Standard load P-metric.........  220...................    ....................    ...................    ...................  220
    Extra load P-metric............  260...................    ....................    ...................    ...................  260
    LT load range C/D/E............    ....................    ....................  sidewall max.........    ...................  320/410/500
SpeedRating (Std/Extra):
    L,M,N..........................    ....................  240/280...............  240/280..............    ...................
    P,Q,R,S........................    ....................  260/300...............  260/300..............  260/300..............
    T,U,H..........................    ....................  280/320...............  280/320..............  280/320..............
    V..............................    ....................  300/340...............  300/340..............  300/340..............
    W,Y............................    ....................  320/360...............  320/360..............  320/360..............
Test speed * (km/h)................  120, 128, 136.........  0-ITS, ITS, +10, +20,   0-ITS, ITS, +10, +20,  ITS, +10, +20, +30...  140, 150, 160
                                                              +30.                    +30 +40.
Duration (mins)....................  90....................  60....................  60...................  60...................  90
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* For GTS-2000, RMA 2000, and ECE 30, initial test speed (ITS) is defined as the tire's rated speed minus 40 km/h.

    An explanation of the proposed parameters is provided below.
a. Ambient Temperature
    The proposed ambient temperature is 40 deg.C. This temperature is a 
slight increase over the temperature, 38 deg.C, currently specified in 
FMVSS No. 109. This temperature reflects the typical daytime 
temperatures in the South and Southwestern regions of the U.S. during 
the Summer. As discussed earlier, the highest rates of tire problems 
occurred in the southern states in the summertime.
b. Load
    The load proposed for the high-speed test is 85 percent. The load 
percent currently specified in FMVSS No. 109 is 88 percent. As 
discussed in greater detail below, decreasing the load from 88 percent 
to 85 percent increases the tire reserve needed by a vehicle under 
normal loading conditions from 12 percent to 15 percent, resulting in a 
larger margin of safety when a vehicle is loaded to its GVWR or its 
tires are underinflated.

[[Page 10063]]

    Changing the load from 88 percent to 85 percent in the high speed 
test would affect the current requirement in S4.2.2 of FMVSS No. 110 
which states that the vehicle normal load on the tire is to be no 
greater than the applicable load used in the high speed performance 
test. ``Tire reserve load'' refers to a tire's remaining load-carrying 
capability when the tire is inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's 
recommended inflation pressure and the vehicle is loaded to its gross 
vehicle weight rating (GVWR).\26\ When a tire is loaded to 88 percent 
of the maximum load labeled on the tire sidewall, the unused 12 percent 
is considered the reserve load of the tire under normal loading 
conditions (curb weight of the vehicle plus three occupants in a 
vehicle with a designated seating capacity of five or more.) A change 
from 88 percent to 85 percent load on the tire for the high speed test 
would, in essence, require a vehicle manufacturer to increase the 
reserve load under normal loading from 12 percent to 15 percent. This 
requirement may, in turn, necessitate the use of a larger tire size on 
some vehicles since the load limit on existing tires may not be 
sufficiently high to provide a load reserve of 15 percent of the tire's 
maximum rated load.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \26\ A reserve load margin is provided by manufacturers to 
account for overloading of the vehicle, under-inflation of the 
tires, or both.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In addition, the requirement for a 12 percent tire reserve under 
normal loading conditions currently applies only to passenger cars. 
This notice proposes to require light trucks for the first time to have 
a specified tire reserve under normal loading conditions. Light trucks 
would have to provide the same 15 percent reserve proposed for 
passenger cars.
    The agency also proposes revised language in FMVSS No. 110 to 
clarify that the test load that is compared with the vehicle normal 
load must be determined at the vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold 
tire inflation pressure, and not at the maximum tire load limit on the 
sidewall. The agency believes that since the vehicle normal load 
defines loading during normal operation of the vehicle, it is 
appropriate to require the load to be determined at the vehicle's 
recommended cold tire inflation pressure.\27\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \27\ Vehicle normal load on the tire means that load on an 
individual tire that is determined by distributing to each axle its 
share of the curb weight, accessory weight, and normal occupant 
weight and dividing by 2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Although 85 percent loading for the high speed testing of tires 
represents a slight decrease from the current 88 percent specification 
in FMVSS No. 109, test data from the agency's testing and from RMA 
testing indicate that tire failure is more sensitive to speed and 
inflation pressure than to loading variations in the 80 to 90 percent 
range.\28\ The agency believes that a speed increase from 75, 80 and 85 
mph to speeds up to 160 km/h (100 mph) would contribute to a more 
stringent test which would more than offset a small decrease in test 
load requirements. In Phase I of the agency's testing, 5 of 9 P-metric 
tires failed at 90 percent load and 2 of 9 failed at 80 percent. Phase 
II of the testing included testing of 8 P-metric tire brands, 5 samples 
each, at 80 and 85 percent loads, and with all other test parameters 
remaining constant (inflation pressure-220 kPa, 20-minute steps, speeds 
ITS to ITS + 30 km/h). In these tests, fewer tire failures occurred at 
85 percent load than at 80 percent load.\29\ At 85 percent load, 5 of 8 
tire brands had no tire failures in their 5 samples and the other three 
brands had at least one failure in the five samples. One brand 
experienced failures in all 5 samples tested to the high speed test. 
Four brands of LT tires were also tested and all samples for each of 
the brands completed the high speed test at 85 percent load without any 
failures. This testing appears to confirm that small increases in tire 
load have less of an impact on time to failure as compared with changes 
in inflation pressure and test speed.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \28\ RMA's test data indicate that the time to failure for P235/
75R15 tires decreased by 4 minutes when the load was increased from 
80 percent to 90 percent. However, time to failure on the same type 
(brand, model, and size) tires decreased by 16 minutes when the 
inflation pressure was reduced by 9 psi.
    \29\ The agency reviewed the production dates for the tires 
tested to the above loads at 80 percent and 85 percent loads to 
determine whether the production dates of the tires may have 
affected the failure rates. No correlation between production date 
and failure at the lower load percentages is concluded because all 
of the tires were produced during 2000 and 2001. The agency 
concludes that a combination of minor quality differences in the 
tires, test procedures, and the relatively small (5 percent) load 
change may account for the fewer tire failures at the higher load 
factor.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

c. Inflation Pressure
    The agency proposes a test inflation pressure of 220 kPa (32 psi) 
for all unrated and speed rated P-metric tires and 260 kPa for extra 
load tires. The proposed P-metric tire pressure is the same as that 
specified in FMVSS No. 109. The agency proposes the following inflation 
pressures for LT tires based upon their higher maximum inflation 
pressures: 320 kPa for load range C, 410 kPa for load range D, and 500 
kPa for load range E tires. During its testing, the agency incorrectly 
used 600 kPa as the maximum load rate inflation pressure for LT tires 
with load range ``E'', and calculated test pressures utilizing 600 kPa. 
Based on the Tire and Rim Association (T&RA) Yearbook, load range E 
tires have an inflation pressure of 550 kPa at its maximum load rating. 
Therefore, the test inflation pressures are revised accordingly.
    The proposed inflation pressures are based on surveys showing that 
tires are typically operated at some level of underinflation.\30\ Given 
the tire pressure survey data, the agency selected the proposed test 
pressures based on the level of underinflation experienced during 
normal vehicle operation. The 220 kPa value represents an under-
inflation of 20 kPa (3 psi) or 8 percent from the 240 kPa maximum 
inflation pressure, and 260 kPa represents an under-inflation of 20 kPa 
(3 psi) or 7 percent from the 280 kPa maximum inflation pressure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \30\ A tire pressure survey conducted by Viergutz, et al., on 
8,900 tires in 1978 reported that almost 80 percent of all tires 
were under-inflated with approximately 50 percent under-inflated by 
4 psi (28 kPa) or more below the recommended pressure. The average 
amount of under-inflation recorded in this survey was approximately 
3.2 psi (22kPa) below the recommended amount. More recently, data 
from the 2001 NASS Tire Pressure Study, conducted on over 11,000 
vehicles, indicate that about 60 percent of P-metric tires used on 
passenger cars were under-inflated with about 40 percent being 
under-inflated by 3 psi or more below the recommended inflation 
pressure. For P-metric tires used on light trucks, about 70 percent 
were under-inflated, with about 50 percent under-inflated by 3 psi 
or more below the recommended inflation pressure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Although 220 kPa is the same test pressure specified in FMVSS No. 
109, this test pressure, in conjunction with the new proposed test 
speeds, represents a more stringent test than that contained in FMVSS 
No. 109. Agency testing results indicate that 220 kPa is a test 
inflation pressure that would be appropriate for the high speed test 
given the parameters of speed, load and test duration.
    RMA suggested basing the test inflation pressure on the rated speed 
of the tire. Tires rated P, Q, R, and S would be tested at 260 kPa; 
tires rated T, U, and H are tested at 280 kPa; tires rated V are tested 
at 300 kPa; and tires rated W, Y, and Z are tested at 320 kPa.\31\ The 
agency believes that these inflation pressure values are too high for 
high speed testing because (1) they do not reflect values that are 
similar to the cold inflation pressures recommended by vehicle 
manufacturers, and (2) they do not correspond well with the real-world 
inflation pressures recently obtained

[[Page 10064]]

from the vehicles measured during a recent NHTSA sponsored consumer 
tire pressure survey.\32\ Further, the agency has stated in previous 
rulemakings that standard load tires with higher maximum inflation 
pressures (300 and 350 kPa) are not capable of carrying additional load 
at higher inflation pressures beyond 240 kPa. They should be tested at 
an inflation pressure similar to that of the 240 kPa maximum inflation 
pressure tires. (53 FR 17950, 5/19/88; 53 FR 936, 1/18/88)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \31\ In some cases, RMA's proposed test inflation pressures are 
higher than those labeled on the tire sidewall.
    \32\ In Spring 2001, the National Center for Statistics and 
Analysis (NCSA) conducted the 2001 National Automotive Sampling 
System (NASS) Tire Pressure Special Study (NASS Study) in response 
to the TREAD Act. The Preliminary Analysis of Findings, 2001 NASS 
Tire Pressure Special Study, dated May 4, 2001, has been placed in 
Docket No. NHTSA-00-8572. Data obtained as part of this study 
indicate that about 36 percent of passenger cars and 40 percent of 
light trucks had at least one tire that was at least 20 percent 
below the vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold inflation 
pressure. About 26 percent of passenger cars and 29 percent of light 
trucks had at least one tire that was least 25 percent below the 
vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold inflation pressure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

d. Speed
    The proposed test speeds, 140, 150 and 160 km/h (88, 94, and 100 
mph) represent a substantially increased stringency from the test 
speeds currently used in FMVSS No. 109 and 119 for which tires are 
tested at 75, 80, and 85 mph for 30 minutes at each speed. This 
approach would more closely mirror the upper limit of real world 
operational speeds beyond which drivers have few opportunities to 
operate their vehicles and eliminate from production any tires whose 
production just achieved the lowest rung of Temperature resistance 
rating in our Uniform Tire Quality Grading System (UTQGS), ``C'' rated 
tires.
    The agency considered proposing a higher threshold test speed of 
180 km/h so that speed rated tires with a speed rating lower than ``S'' 
(180 km/h) would not have been able to comply with the high speed test. 
In the U.S., light vehicles are typically equipped with tires speed 
rated no lower than Q (160 km/h). GM suggested that the agency consider 
basing our test speed on the speed rating of the tire since many of 
their light trucks are equipped with LT tires rated Q and R, 160 km/h 
(100 mph) and 170 km/h (106 mph), respectively. NHTSA, however, 
believes that an upper test speed threshold of 160 km/h (100 mph) 
ensures a minimum level of safe operation that is 25-30 mph beyond 
typical speed limits on interstate highways in the U.S.
    Under the UTQG test procedure, a tire is rated C if it fails to 
complete the test at 100 mph for 30 minutes. The test is initiated at 
75 mph for 30 minutes and then successively increased in 5 mph 
increments for 30 minutes each until the tire has run at 115 mph for 30 
minutes. Therefore, tires with a temperature rating of C would be able 
to complete 30 minutes at speeds of 75, 80, 85, 90, and 95 mph (120, 
128, 136, 144, and 152 km/h), but not complete the 100-mph (160 km/h) 
step. NHTSA, as mentioned above, believes that testing at an upper test 
speed threshold of 160 km/h (100 mph) ensures a minimum level of safe 
operation.
    As discussed above, NHTSA used test speeds based on the speed 
rating of the tires for its high speed testing at STL (see the Tire 
Test Matrix in Docket No, NHTSA-00-8011-1). While representing a 
departure from the methodology of utilizing three predetermined test 
speeds (as proposed above and currently used in the FMVSS Nos. 109 and 
119 high speed tests), this approach is identical to that contained in 
ECE R 30, GTS-2000, RMA 2000, and in SAE Recommended Practice J15161, 
Laboratory Speed Test Procedure for Passenger Car Tires. NHTSA seeks 
comment on whether test speeds based on speed ratings would be more 
appropriate, than those proposed above, for the High Speed Test and, 
more specifically, whether the method for determining test speeds 
contained in NHTSA's high speed testing matrix or the two alternatives 
mentioned above would be appropriate for the High Speed Test in the 
final rule.
e. Duration
    NHTSA proposes a 30-minute test duration for each of the 3 speed 
steps, 140, 150, and 160 km/h. The total test time equals 90 minutes. 
The 30-minute duration allows the tire to attain and maintain its 
operating temperature at each speed step so that the tire's performance 
could be evaluated during a steady rate of speed for a duration longer 
than 10 minutes.
    Based on its testing, the agency believes that RMA 2000's 10 minute 
duration at each speed step (10 minute speed build-up from 0 km/h to 
ITS, then five 10 minute speed steps) is too short to provide a proper 
evaluation of high-speed performance. Very few failures occurred in the 
agency's testing using the 10-minute duration for speed steps. 
Additionally, RMA's recommendation reduces the duration currently 
specified in FMVSS No. 109 by almost 50 percent.
3. Endurance Test
    NHTSA proposes that the Endurance test be conducted using the 
following five parameters:
    (1) Ambient temperature: 40 deg.C.
    (2) Load: 90 percent, 100 percent, 110 percent.
    (3) Inflation Pressure--180 kPa (26 psi) for P-metric, 260 kPa (38 
psi), 340 kPa (50 psi), and 410 kPa (59 psi), for LT load range C, D 
and E, respectively.
    (4) Speed--120 km/h (75 mph).
    (5) Duration (hrs): 8, 10, 22 (total 40) at the corresponding loads 
listed above.
    A tire complies with the proposed requirements if, at the end of 
the endurance test, there is no visual evidence of tread, sidewall, 
ply, cord, inner liner, or bead separation, chunking, broken cords, 
cracking, or open splices, and the tire pressure is not less than the 
initial test pressure.
    This combination of these parameters for P-metric tires represents 
a more real-world test and an increase in stringency over FMVSS No. 
109's endurance test with an 18 percent increase in the duration, a 10 
percent increase in the load, and a 50 percent increase in speed.
    Two alternatives to the proposed test parameters were considered by 
the agency: (1) RMA 2000, and (2) an endurance test using identical 
parameters to those proposed above except for test loads at 100/110/115 
percent for durations of 8, 10, 32 (total 50).
    RMA 2000 includes no change in the load combination of 85/90/100 
percent and a 10-hour (almost 30%) decrease in duration from the 
current standard, FMVSS No. 109. The load and duration increase of the 
second alternative to a load combination of 100/110/115 and a 16-hour 
(almost 50%) increase in duration from FMVSS No. 109 would fail over 40 
percent of P-metric tires and 20 percent of LT tires tested.\33\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \33\ These results, based on NHTSA's endurance testing at STL, 
are discussed in more detail below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The agency proposes an endurance test that has parameters different 
from the two alternatives in load and duration. The agency believes 
that, given the change in the composition of the light vehicle market 
in the U.S. over the past 10 years towards a greater proportion of 
light trucks and vans being used for passenger purposes, the load 
values for an endurance tire test should be increased up to 110 percent 
to reflect the greater likelihood of vehicle overloading that is more 
likely to occur with light trucks and vans than with passenger cars. 
Further, the agency believes that an increase in duration for the test 
is warranted reflecting the increased life of today's tires. The 
increase in duration from 34 hours to 40 hours combined with the 
proposed test speed of 120 km/h represents an increase in the total 
test distance from

[[Page 10065]]

2720 km (1700 miles) to 4800 km (3000 miles).
    The following chart illustrates an ``at-a-glance comparison'' of 
the proposed standard to the other standards and suggestions discussed 
in this document.\34\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \34\ For global harmonization, the tire industry recommended an 
endurance test for radial tires rated Q and below. The test 
parameters included a load of 100/110/115 percent at a speed of 80 
km/h. The agency's testing indicates that all the P-metric tires 
tested completed the industry's recommended test without any 
failures.

                                             Table 3.--Endurance Test
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                                       New FMVSS
         Test parameters           FMVSS 109   FMVSS 119   GTS-2000 *    RMA 2000        ECE R30          139
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ambient ( deg.C)................          38          38            38          38  N/A                       40
Load (%):
    P-metric....................   85/90/100  ..........   100/110/115   80/90/100  N/A               90/100/110
    LT-load C/D.................  ..........   75/97/114  ............   75/97/114  N/A               90/100/110
    LT-load E...................  ..........   66/84/101  ............   70/88/106  N/A               90/100/110
Inflation Pressure (kPa):
    Standard load P-metric......         180  ..........           180         180  N/A                      180
    Extra load P-metric.........         220  ..........           220         220  N/A                      220
    LT-Load C/D.................  ..........        (**)  ............        (**)  N/A                  260/340
    LT-load E...................  ..........        (**)  ............        (**)  N/A                      410
Speed (km/h)....................          80          80            80         120  N/A                      120
Duration (hrs)..................          34          34            34          24  N/A                      40
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Endurance test recommended for GTS-2000 is only for radial tires rated ``Q'' and below.
** Sidewall max.

    The endurance testing conducted in Phase 1 of the agency's testing 
was performed at 120 km/h and 140 km/h, with loads of 100 percent, 115 
percent, and 125 percent for a total of 50 hours, and at inflation 
pressures of 160 kPa and 200 kPa. Many failures occurred at the 
combination of low inflation pressure (160 kPa) and high speed (140 km/
h). At a test speed of 120 km/h with an inflation pressure of 200 kPa, 
2 of the 9 P-metric tires failed to complete the 50 hour test.
    In Phase 2 of the testing, the agency tested with loading 
conditions of 100/110/115 percent, (identical to the load recommended 
by the tire industry for the endurance test in GTS-2000), 180 kPa 
inflation pressure, 120 km/h for 50 hours. For P-metric tires, 2 of the 
8 tire brands completed the test without any failures in their 5 
samples; the remaining tire brands experienced at least one failure in 
the five samples used during the test.
    Although neither phase of the endurance testing tested tires at 
exactly the same conditions as those proposed above, analysis conducted 
by the agency indicates that 19 of the 24 tires tested would pass the 
proposed endurance test. This analysis is contained in the PEA. NHTSA 
seeks comment on this analysis and whether the two alternatives 
mentioned above would be appropriate for the Endurance Test in the 
final rule.
    A more detailed explanation of the proposed parameters is discussed 
below.
a. Ambient Temperature
    The proposed ambient temperature is 40 deg.C. This temperature is a 
slight increase over the temperature, 38 deg.C, currently specified in 
FMVSS No.109, and reflects typical daytime temperatures in the South 
and Southwestern regions of the U.S. during the Summer months. As 
discussed earlier, the highest rates of tire problems occurred in the 
southern states in the summertime.
b. Load
    The proposed loads for the endurance test are 90, 100, and 110 
percent. These load percentages represent an approximate 10 percent 
increase over the load percentages specified for the endurance test in 
FMVSS No. 109 (85, 90, and 100 percent) and an increase over those 
recommended by RMA 2000.
    The load levels originally proposed by the tire industry in GTS-
2000 for P-metric tires rated Q or below were 100/110/115 percent at a 
test speed of 80 km/h. Given the increased use of light trucks and vans 
by the general public and the larger cargo volumes available in these 
vehicles, the agency believes that they are more likely to be operated 
in an overloaded condition than passenger cars. Our proposal for loads 
in the endurance test, 90/100/110 percent, reflects the need to 
increase the loads beyond the loads currently required in FMVSS No. 109 
but not to the levels proposed by industry in the original GTS-2000 
proposal. The RMA now supports a load combination of 85/90/100 percent 
for P-metric tires, which is identical to the test loads currently 
required for the endurance test in FMVSS No. 109, but at the higher 
speeds of 120 km/h, as proposed by the agency. The load combination 
proposed by RMA for LT tires with load C or D is 75/97/114 percent, and 
for load range E tires is 70/88/106 percent. The industry's endurance 
test proposal for P-metric and LT tires is based on a 24-hour test, 
which represents a 10-hour reduction in the endurance test time from 
FMVSS No. 109.
c. Inflation Pressure
    The inflation pressure of 180 kPa represents a 25 percent under-
inflation for 240 kPa maximum inflation pressure tires and is the same 
inflation pressure currently required for the endurance test in FMVSS 
No. 109. Tires tested to more severe levels of underinflation, e.g., 
160 kPa, failed much sooner into the 50-hour endurance test than those 
tested at 180 kPa.
d. Speed
    The proposed test is conducted at 120 km/h (75 mph). The current 
endurance test in FMVSS 109 is conducted at 80 km/h (50 mph). A 80 km/h 
test speed

[[Page 10066]]

may have been an appropriate test speed in 1968 when initially proposed 
for bias ply tires. However, today, it is too low a speed for 
evaluating the endurance of today's tires given current vehicle 
performance capabilities and speed limits.\35\ In addition, speed 
limits on interstate highways across the U.S. have reached as high as 
75 mph, with actual vehicle traffic speeds typically at least several 
miles per hour above the posted speed limit.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \35\ According to Automotive News (5/14/01), ``since 1981, 
average horsepower has risen 79 percent and vehicle weight has grown 
21 percent.'' The power to weight ratio has increased over the past 
10 years based on data on selected mid-priced Ford, Chevrolet, 
Pontiac, Toyota, and Honda vehicles ranged from about 70 to 90 
horsepower (HP) per ton. (Ward's Automotive Yearbooks, 1990 and 
2000). In 1995, the federally-mandated 55 mph speed limit was 
repealed. Since that time, numerous States have increased speed 
limits up to 75 mph.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

e. Duration
    NHTSA is proposing a 40-hour test at 120 km/h. The total test 
distance is 4800 km (3000 miles), which is almost double the distance 
for the current endurance test in FMVSS No. 109 (1700 miles at 80 km/
h). The proposed test duration represents a slight increase from the 
current 34-hour test in FMVSS No. 109.
3. Low Inflation Pressure Tests
    The TREAD Act requires that light vehicles be equipped with a tire 
pressure monitoring system, effective November 1, 2003, to indicate to 
the driver when any of the tires on his vehicle is significantly 
underinflated. NHTSA has proposed to establish 20 psi as a low pressure 
threshold at or above which the low pressure lamp must be 
activated.\36\
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    \36\ The proposed requirements of the tire pressure monitoring 
system standard would allow each vehicle manufacturer to establish 
the level of under-inflation at which the low inflation pressure 
warning lamp will be illuminated, subject to a low inflation 
pressure threshold requirement for the warning lamp activation. In 
its recent TPMS NPRM, Docket No. NHTSA-00-8572, the agency proposed 
two options for activation: (1) 20 percent below the recommended 
cold inflation pressure or 140 kPa (20 psi) whichever is higher; and 
(2) 25 percent below the recommended cold inflation pressure or 140 
kPa (20psi), whichever is higher.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NHTSA proposes to include in the new light vehicle tire standard a 
low inflation pressure test to ensure a minimum level of endurance and/
or high speed performance/safety when operated at a significant level 
of under-inflation. To aid the agency in choosing an appropriate test, 
NHTSA seeks comments on the following alternative tests: (1) The Low 
Pressure--TPMS test, (2) or the Low Pressure High Speed test. Both 
proposed tests are described and detail below.
a. Low Pressure--TPMS
    The Low Pressure--TPMS test includes a linkage between the proposed 
requirements of the tire pressure monitoring system standard and the 
proposed endurance test for the tire standard upgrade proposed 
requirements. The former test is predicated upon the notion that a low 
pressure test would be most appropriate on tires that have completed 
the endurance test because a significantly underinflated condition for 
a tire is more likely to occur in a tire after several weeks of natural 
air pressure loss or due to a slow leak. The parameters for this test, 
which the tire must complete without failure, are as follows:
    (1) Load: 100 percent.
    (2) Inflation pressure: 140 kPa (20 psi).
    (3) Test speed: 120 km/h (75 mph).
    (4) Duration: 90 minutes at the end of the 40-hour endurance test.
    (5) Ambient temperature: 40 deg.C.
    A tire complies with the proposed requirements if, at the end of 
the test, there is no visual evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, cord, 
inner liner, or bead separation, chunking, broken cords, cracking, or 
open splices, and the tire pressure is not less than the initial test 
pressure.
    As discussed, supra, the agency also conducted a test at 140 kPa 
(20 psi) inflation pressure, at a speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) for a 
duration of 90 minutes, on the same tires (2 samples of each of the 12 
brands) that successfully completed the endurance test to evaluate tire 
performance at the low inflation threshold level being proposed for 
tire pressure monitoring systems for light vehicles. Similar tests were 
performed using the LT tires, but at low inflation values commensurate 
with about 58 percent of their maximum inflation pressure. The test 
results indicated that all 24 tires tested completed the 90-minute low 
inflation test without failure.
    The agency believes that this test provides an extra safeguard to 
ensure that tires which were able to successfully complete the 
endurance testing can also complete an additional 90-minute test at low 
inflation pressures.
b. Low Pressure--High Speed Test
    This proposed test provides a linkage between the proposed TPMS 
requirements and the proposed high speed test. While it would evaluate 
tires at a lower load than that specified in the Low Pressure--TPMS 
test, the Low Pressure--High Speed test would ensure that a 
manufacturer designs a tire so that its high speed performance would 
comply with the test requirements not only at recommended inflation 
pressure, but also at a low inflation pressure. The parameters for this 
test are as follows:
    (1) Test speed: 140, 150, and 160 km/h (88, 94, 100 mph).
    (2) Inflation pressure: 140 kPa (20 psi).
    (3) Load: 67 percent.
    (4) Duration: 30 minutes at each speed.
    (5) Ambient Temperature: 40 deg.C.
    A tire complies with the proposed requirements if, at the end of 
the test, there is no visual evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, cord, 
inner liner, or bead separation, chunking, broken cords, cracking, or 
open splices, and the tire pressure is not less than the initial test 
pressure.
    The above conditions place the test point slightly below the T&RA 
load curves. The T&RA load curves establish the load capacity a tire is 
designed to carry at a specific inflation pressure. A tire is 
considered to have passed the test if it completes the 30 minute step 
at 160 km/h (100 mph).
    NHTSA recently conducted testing of the above parameters on 8 tire 
brands. The results of this testing are contained in a report which has 
been added to the docket for this rulemaking. The results indicate that 
30 percent of tires with an ``S'' speed rating, 63 percent of tires 
with an ``R'' speed rating, and 75 percent of tires with a ``Q'' speed 
rating would not pass this test. However, 70 percent of tires with an 
``S'' speed rating, and all ``T'' and ``H'' rated tires would have 
completed the test. The following bullets summarize key conclusions 
derived from the results:
     Effect of test pressure on tire performance--Inflation 
pressure has a significant effect on speed-at-failure. An inflation 
pressure of 180 kPa (26 psi) produces a substantial number (32 out of 
168, or 19 percent) of failures at speeds less than the rated speed of 
the tire.
     Combined effect of load and pressure on tire performance--
The combination of NHTSA and RMA data supports the hypothesis that the 
performance of a tire is the same for a test condition anywhere on the 
T&RA load curve except for inflation pressure below 180 kPa (26 psi). 
At these lower pressures, specifically at 140 kPa (20 psi), failure 
rates are higher for tires with lower speed ratings than would be 
predicted from the results of tests run at higher pressures and loads 
that correspond to points on the T&RA load curve, i.e., the proposed 
high-speed test condition.

[[Page 10067]]

     Effect of length of time at a speed on tire performance--
For high-speed tests of tires at the maximum sidewall pressure (240 kPa 
(35 psi) for the tires tested), it may be necessary to test with 
durations greater than 10 minutes to fully judge failure rates. For 
tests at lower pressures, the results do not provide a consistent 
picture. For example, the RMA data at 180 kPa (26 psi) suggests that it 
probably is not necessary to test for more than 10 durations. However, 
the NHTSA data at 140 kPa (20 psi) suggests that 10 minutes may not be 
a sufficiently long duration.
4. Road Hazard Impact Test
    The agency proposes that a road hazard impact test replace the 
strength (plunger) test in the new standard. A tire complies with the 
proposed requirements if, at the end of the test, there is no visual 
evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, cord, inner liner, or bead 
separation, chunking, broken cords, cracking, or open splices, and the 
tire pressure is not less than the initial test pressure.
    A road hazard impact test simulates a tire impacting a road hazard, 
such as a pothole or curb, and is a more realistic test for radial 
tires than the current strength test in FMVSS No. 109. For this test, 
NHTSA is utilizing the existing SAE Recommended Practice J1981, Road 
Hazard Impact Test for Wheel and Tire Assemblies (Passenger Car, Light 
Truck, and Multipurpose Vehicles) (``J1981'').
    J1981 was developed to provide a uniform test procedure for 
evaluating the effect, on wheel and tire assemblies, of impacting a 
road hazard such as a pothole or curb. J1981 does not attempt to 
simulate the exact conditions encountered when the wheel and tire 
assembly strikes such a hazard. The equipment developed for this test 
does, however, attempt to reproduce under controlled conditions the 
wheel and tire deformations that may be experienced with a road hazard 
impact. The test equipment can also be used to determine, with a high 
degree of accuracy, the threshold condition at which tire damage first 
occurs.
    In the preparation of J1981, laboratory and road tests carried out 
by a number of manufacturers were studied. The pendulum test specified 
in J1981 was designed to provide equivalent damage with low cost 
equipment that would give accurate and reproducible results. The test 
is designed for testing of wheel and tire assemblies used with 
passenger cars, light trucks, and multipurpose vehicles. The test is 
limited to a front (radial) impact with both wheel rim flanges being 
impacted simultaneously.
    The following bullets summarize the key components of a Road Hazard 
Impact Test Machine (used by STL) and the test procedure for the Road 
Hazard Impact Test as specified by SAE J1981:
     The basic machine consists of a framework designed to 
guide the Pendulum Weight System so that, when released, it will free 
fall and impact the wheel tire assembly. The wheel/tire assembly is 
adjustable so that it can be aligned with the Pendulum Weight Assembly.
     The equipment must be calibrated to ensure that the impact 
force is correct since the impact force on the wheel and tire assembly 
depends on the length of the pendulum, the shape of the striker, and 
the friction at the fulcrum.
     The tire and wheel assembly, inflated to the required test 
pressure, is installed on the test fixture. The inflation pressure 
proposed for P-metric tires is 180 kPa, and for LT tires load ranges C, 
D, and E, it is 260 kPa, 340 kPa, and 410 kPa, respectively.
     The 54 kg striker is raised to the predetermined drop 
height based on the pendulum centerline angle of 80 degrees to the 
vertical. The striker is allowed to fall freely from this predetermined 
height to impact the test tire and wheel assembly.
     The test is repeated for a total of five equally spaced 
points around the circumference of the tire.
     The tire pressure at the end of the test shall not be less 
than the initial test pressure, and there must be no visual evidence of 
tire failure.
5. Bead Unseating
    The current resistance-to-bead unseating test is designed to 
evaluate how well the tire bead remains on the rim during turning 
maneuvers. The test forces currently used in FMVSS No. 109 are based on 
bias ply tires and are typically not stringent enough for radial tires. 
For this reason, the industry, in GTS-2000, recommended that the test 
be deleted from the standard because radial tires are able to satisfy 
the test easily. Results from the agency's 1997-1998 dynamic rollover 
testing, however, provide a strong rationale for seeking to upgrade, 
rather than delete, the bead unseating requirement in FMVSS No. 109. In 
this NHTSA test program, vehicles experienced bead unseating on three 
of twelve test vehicles. This bead unseating occurred during severe 
maneuvers, but on level surfaces without any external impact to the 
tire. Such bead unseating in the real world would pose serious safety 
concerns. Therefore, NHTSA proposes to replace the current bead 
unseating test in FMVSS No. 109 with the Toyota Air Loss Test.
    The Toyota Air Loss Test was developed by Toyota to evaluate 
tubeless tire performance. While the current FMVSS No. 109 bead 
unseating test applies force in the middle of the sidewall, the Toyota 
Air Loss Test applies force at the tire tread surface edge. The tire 
tread surface edge is the actual location at which force occurs due to 
tire/road interface during severe vehicle maneuvers. There are two 
general methods for conducting the Toyota test:
    1. Air Loss Bench Test Method: A tire that receives a lateral force 
from the ground is deformed and may be deflated as its tire bead is 
separated from the rim bead. The air loss test is intended to measure 
the tire inflation pressure at which a tire is deflated under the above 
condition. The test may be conducted with an actual vehicle or with a 
tire assembly on a test bench.
    2. On-Vehicle Air Loss Test Method: When an actual vehicle is used 
for the air loss test, the vehicle is driven at 60 km/h along a 
straight course, then makes a curve with a radius of 25 meters, so that 
a lateral force is applied to the tire. This so-called J-turn test 
method is recommended because the fluctuation in input load is 
relatively small.
    NHTSA proposes to adopt the Air Loss Bench Test Method because the 
test is independent of vehicle type, although the agency seeks comments 
on both methods. This test method uses a force of 2.1 times the maximum 
load labeled on the tire sidewall, which is applied at the tread 
surface. The wedge-shaped device applies a force on the tire, 
laterally, at the tread surface. This force simulates the lateral force 
at the tread surface, which a tire experiences during severe maneuvers 
that could produce bead unseating of the tire.
    Toyota has provided a brief description of the test apparatus and 
the test method used for the bench test. The apparatus includes a tire 
mounting hub that positions the tire vertically at an angle 5 degrees 
to the vertical axis, a hydraulic-powered sliding wedge-shaped block 
that applies force to the tire tread surface, and a control panel that 
includes controls for monitoring and regulating the tire's inflation 
pressure and a load indicator. The test procedure recommends inflating 
the tire to an initial inflation pressure of maximum (design) inflation 
pressure plus 50 kPa. Therefore, the initial inflation pressure for a 
P205/65R15 standard load tire (rated at a load limit of 635 kg ( 1400 
lbs.) at an inflation

[[Page 10068]]

pressure of 240 kPa) is 290 kPa. Force, using the wedge-shaped block, 
is applied at a rate of 200 millimeters per second (mm/s) to a properly 
mounted tire and is maintained for a duration of 20 seconds. A tire 
successfully completes the test if the test pressure is not less than 
the initial test pressure.
    The agency has recently conducted research using the Toyota test 
apparatus and test to verify that the recommended force levels are 
appropriate for a minimum safety requirement. Based on the agency's 
evaluation of this bead unseating method, it proposes 180 kPa for an 
inflation pressure in P-metric tires and 2.0 times the maximum tire 
load labeled on the tire sidewall for an application load appropriate 
for a minimum safety standard. The test inflation pressure for other 
tires are identical to the inflation pressures used in the proposed 
endurance test, which specifies 260 kPa, 340 kPa, and 410 kPa for LT 
tires load range C, D, and E, respectively.
    The preliminary test results for the bead unseating testing have 
been placed in the docket. The agency requests comment on the data.
6. Aging Effects
    During the Firestone hearings and the passage of the TREAD Act, 
some members of Congress expressed the view that there is a need for an 
aging test to be conducted on light vehicle tires. The agency 
tentatively concludes that we agree there is a need for an aging test 
in the proposed light vehicle tire standard because most tire failures 
occur at mileages well beyond 2,720 kilometers (1,700 miles) to which 
tires are exposed in the current FMVSS No. 109 Endurance Test.\37\ The 
proposed endurance test, while accumulating 4,800 kilometers (3,000 
miles) on a tire, still will not expose the tire to the type of 
environmental factors experienced on vehicles at 40,000 kilometers or 
beyond.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \37\ Based on a review of a sample of complaints received by the 
agency's Office of Defects Investigation, complaint dates for tires 
are typically two to three years later than the model year of the 
vehicle on which they are equipped. This indicates, based on 
available data, that tire mileage may have been in the 20,000 to 
30,000-mileage range when the complaint was submitted.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Currently, no industry-wide recommended practice for accelerating 
the aging of tires exists.\38\ The agency, therefore, proposes the 
following three tests for consideration and comment: (1) Adhesion Test, 
(2) Michelin's Long-term Durability Endurance Test, and (3) Oven Aging. 
NHTSA plans to adopt one of these tests. These tests are discussed in 
detail below.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \38\ The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has 
recently established a working group to develop a long-term 
durability endurance test standard.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

a. Adhesion (Peel) Test
    The Adhesion (peel) test is based on the American Society for 
Testing and Materials (ASTM) 413-98, Standard Test Methods for Rubber 
Property--Adhesion to Flexible Substrate. The Adhesion (peel) test 
evaluates a tire's resistance to belt separation by determining the 
adhesion strength, measure by force per unit width, required to 
separate a rubber layer from a flexible substrate such as fabric, 
fibre, wire, or sheet metal. The adhesion levels of a tire will vary 
based on rubber formulations, the different materials used to construct 
a tire, and the curing process.
    The test methods in ASTM D 413-98 cover the determination of 
adhesion strength between plies of fabric bonded with rubber or 
adhesion of the rubber layer in article made from rubber attached to 
other material. They are applicable only when the adhered surfaces 
(adjacent tire belts) are approximately plane or uniformly circular in 
belting, hose, tire carcasses, or rubber covered sheet metal.
    The test methods described in this ASTM standard determine the 
force per unit (pounds per inch) width required to separate a rubber 
layer from a flexible substrate such as fabric. There are two general 
methods for this test:
    (1) Static-Mass Method: The force required to cause separation 
between adhered surfaces is applied by means of gravity acting on a 
mass.
    (2) Machine Method: The force required to cause separation between 
adhered surfaces is applied by means of a tension machine.
    Due to the greater accuracy of the tension testing machine, the 
agency proposes to utilize the Machine Method to apply a peel strength 
requirement for new tires after they complete a 24-hour test with 
parameters similar to the proposed 40-hour endurance test. The 
parameters for this 24-hour test are as follows:
    (1) Ambient temperature--40 deg.C.
    (2) Load--90/100/110 percent.
    (3) Inflation pressure--180 kPa.
    (4) Test speed--120km/h.
    (5) Duration--24 hours with three 8-hour periods at each load.
    For a tire to satisfy the proposed test, it must exhibit a minimum 
peel strength of 30 pounds per inch at the end of the 24-hour test 
period. This value was tentatively chosen based on data made available 
to NHTSA from Ford and Firestone.\39\
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    \39\ In light of the Firestone recall, NHTSA has obtained 
sufficient information in this area to assist in specifying the 
appropriate peel strength parameters. This information, however, has 
not been made public and, therefore, will not be discussed in this 
document.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

b. Michelin's Long-Term Durability Endurance Test
    The second accelerated aging method being considered by the agency 
is based on a method utilized by Michelin. This method uses a road 
wheel endurance test with the following controlled parameters to 
simulate testing the tire to tread wear-out: load, inflation pressure, 
speed, and duration. The test tire is inflated with a 50/50 blend of 
O2/N2 and run for between 250-350 hours. Michelin 
has estimated that 100 hours of this testing correlates with 
approximately one year of real-world tire usage. For example, a 250-
hour test correlates with approximately 2\1/2\ years of real world 
field operation.
    The Michelin long-term durability endurance test research findings 
were initially published at a 1985 International Rubber Conference.\40\ 
The research pointed toward four factors as comprising the best balance 
to achieve good/accurate correlation with field data--(1) filling gas; 
(2) test speed; (3) test temperature; and (4) tire load. Michelin 
discovered that if any one or several of these factors was 
disproportionately altered in an attempt to make the test more 
stringent or to complete the test faster, the result was a test failure 
condition that displayed an abnormal failure mode and did not reflect 
actual field conditions. Therefore, temperature and mechanical stress 
must be controlled to avoid failures that are not representative of 
real-world conditions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \40\ In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the test was used by 
Uniroyal and BF Goodrich for test validation and implementation in 
new tire development. The test was also used by General Motors as an 
internal indicator for GM's accelerated tire endurance test.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The following test parameter values have been developed, through a 
multi-year research program at Michelin, to minimize variance from 
field test end conditions and minimize test hours:
    (1) Filling gas blend: 50 percent O2 (oxygen) and 50 
percent N2 (nitrogen).
    (2) Test speed: 97 km/h (60 mph).
    (3) Test temperature: 38 deg.C (100 deg.F).
    (4) Load: 111 percent for standard load P-metric tires; 112 
percent, 98 percent and 92 percent for LT tires load range C, D, and E, 
respectively.
    (5) Inflation pressure: 40 psi (275 kPa) for standard load P-metric 
tires; 57, 65, and 80 psi (390, 450, 550 kPa) for LT tires load range 
C, D, and E, respectively.
    (6) Test duration: 250 hours.
    These values were chosen to make each test parameter proportionally

[[Page 10069]]

severe without exceeding a critical temperature which, in turn, would 
lead to failure conditions unrepresentative of real-world conditions/
actual field conditions.
    A tire complies with the proposed requirements if, at the end of 
the test, there is no visual evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, cord, 
inner liner, or bead separation, chunking, broken cords, cracking, or 
open splices, and the tire pressure is not less than the initial test 
pressure.
c. Oven Aging
    The agency also proposes a two-step test combining oven aging and a 
24-hour test that is similar in method to the proposed 40-hour 
endurance test. The parameters for this test are as follows:
    (1) Oven aging
    (a) Oven temperature: 75 deg.C (167 deg.F).
    (b) Duration: 14 days.
    (2) 24-hour endurance test
    (a) Ambient temperature: 40 deg.C.
    (b) Load: 90/100/110 percent.
    (c) Inflation pressure: 180 kPa.
    (d) Test speed: 120 km/h.
    (e) Duration: 24 hours with three 8-hour periods at each load.
    A tire complies with the proposed requirements if, at the end of 
the test, there is no visual evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, cord, 
inner liner, or bead separation, chunking, broken cords, cracking, or 
open splices, and the tire pressure is not less than the initial test 
pressure.
    One tire manufacturer, Michelin, commented during discussions with 
NHTSA that oven aging a tire does not create a representative heat 
differential (e.g., a higher belt edge temperature than sidewall 
temperature) that a tire experiences in various areas of the tire in 
real world/field testing conditions. Also, Michelin asserted that the 
oxidative reaction that takes place in tires at increased strain levels 
does not occur in oven aging because no load is applied to the tire. 
According to Michelin, the presence of excess oxygen in a tire under 
simulated road conditions, with proportional increased in load and 
inflation pressure, accelerates the oxidation process while not 
exceeding the critical temperature. Oxidation at the belt edges is 
critical to testing as it leads to belt separation.

D. Deletion of FMVSS No. 109

    The requirements of the proposed new standard, FMVSS No. 139, would 
supercede the current requirements of FMVSS No. 109. Therefore, the 
agency proposes the deletion of FMVSS No. 109 from its standards. FMVSS 
No. 109 is applicable to tires for vehicles manufactured after 1948. 
The proposed standard is would be applicable to tires for vehicles 
manufactured after 1975. While deletion of FMVSS No. 109 would 
theoretically preclude application of any requirements to tires 
produced for vehicles manufactured 1975 and before, the agency has no 
data showing that these vehicles are overrepresented in crashes 
involving tire failures. Additionally, the number of these vehicles 
operated today is very limited and this limited number makes them less 
likely to be involved in a crash caused by tire failure. Finally, the 
GRRF committee has tentatively agreed on 1975 as the date of 
applicability for a globally harmonized tire standard. The agency 
solicits comments on the deletion of FMVSS No. 109 and the issues 
discussed above.

E. FMVSS Nos. 110 and 120

    The purpose of FMVSS Nos. 110 and 120 is to provide safe 
operational performance by ensuring that vehicles to which they apply 
are equipped with tires of adequate load rating and rims of appropriate 
size and type designation. FMVSS No. 110 currently applies to passenger 
cars and FMVSS No. 120 currently applies to vehicles other than 
passenger cars including motorcycles and trailers.
    The agency proposed in the Tire Safety Information NPRM (Docket No. 
NHTSA-01-11157) that FMVSS Nos. 110 and 120 be revised to correspond 
with the applicability of the new light vehicle tire standard. FMVSS 
No. 110 would include passenger cars and other light vehicles with a 
GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less. Therefore, most SUVs, vans, trailers, 
and pickup trucks would be required to comply with the same tire 
selection and rim requirements as passenger cars. FMVSS No. 120 will 
continue to apply to vehicles over 10,000 pounds GVWR and motorcycles.
    All requirements of FMVSS No. 110 would be retained including 
S4.2.2 which establishes a linkage between the vehicle normal load \41\ 
and the load specified for the high speed test in FMVSS No. 109.\42\ 
This requirement will be extended to SUVs, vans, trailers, and pickup 
trucks, which means that P-metric and LT tires used on these vehicles 
will have a load reserve similar to P-metric tires used on passenger 
cars. Since the load proposed for the high speed test is 85 percent of 
the maximum load rating of the tire, these tires will be required to 
have at least a 15 percent load reserve for a vehicle normal loading 
condition. The agency believes that, combined with the de-rating of P-
metric tires when used on SUVs, vans, trailers, and pickup trucks, the 
reserve load requirements of FMVSS No. 110 should provide a sufficient 
safety margin for P-metric tires used on these vehicles.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \41\ Vehicle normal load on the tire means that load on an 
individual tire that is determined by distributing to each axle its 
share of the curb weight, accessory weight, and normal occupant 
weight and dividing by 2.
    \42\ This, under the proposed high speed test, would ensure at 
least a 15 percent load reserve (high speed test load proposed is 85 
percent) when the vehicle is operated at normal load.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The proposal also retains S4.4.1(b) of FMVSS No. 110 which requires 
that each rim shall retain a deflated tire in the event of a rapid loss 
of inflation pressure from a vehicle speed of 97 
km/h until the vehicle is stopped with a controlled braking operation.

F. FMVSS Nos. 117 and 129

    FMVSS No. 117, which specifies performance requirements for 
retreaded pneumatic passenger car tires and FMVSS No. 129, which 
specifies performance requirements for new non-pneumatic tires for 
passenger cars, contain test requirements and test procedures which 
either reference or are modeled after those in the current FMVSS No. 
109. More specifically, FMVSS No. 117 specifies that each retreaded 
tire shall comply with FMVSS No. 109 strength and resistance-to-bead 
unseating tests and the FMVSS No. 129 tire strength and high speed 
tests specifications mirror those in FMVSS No. 109. In order to 
maintain consistent testing procedures and requirements for all tires 
for use on light vehicles, the strength and resistance-to-bead 
unseating test procedures and requirements in FMVSS No. 117 would be 
replaced with the proposed road hazard impact test and bead unseating 
tests. Similarly, the strength and high speed test procedures and 
requirements in FMVSS No. 129 would be revised to include the proposed 
road hazard impact test and high speed test. Additionally, the 
applicability of FMVSS Nos. 117 and 129 would be revised to include 
retreaded and non-pneumatic tires, respectively, for use on motor 
vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less, manufactured after 1975, 
except for motorcycles.

G. De-Rating of P-Metric Tires

    FMVSS No. 120 requires that the load rating of a tire subject to 
FMVSS No. 109 must be reduced by a factor of 1.10 when installed on a 
MPV, truck, bus or trailer. This factor equals a 10 percent ``de-
rating'' and provides a greater load reserve when passenger car tires 
are installed on SUVs, vans, trailers, and pickup trucks. The rationale 
for the de-rating requirement is that SUVs, vans,

[[Page 10070]]

trailers, and pickup trucks are generally easier to overload than 
passenger cars because SUVs, vans, trailers, and pickup trucks have 
greater cargo-carrying volumes than passenger cars. The reduction in 
the load rating is intended to provide a safety margin for generally 
harsher treatment, such as heavier loading and possible off-road use, 
which passenger car tires receive when installed on a MPV, truck, bus, 
or trailer.
    Tire manufacturers have recommended that the agency retain the de-
rating provision in the revised standard for tire selection and rims 
for light vehicles. The agency, for the reasons cited above, agrees 
with the tire manufacturers' suggestion and has inserted this provision 
in the proposed regulatory text for the revised FMVSS No. 110.

H. Other NHTSA Research Plans

    As discussed above, NHTSA is currently conducting Bead Unseating 
and Road Hazard Impact Test (SAE J1981) research. The purpose of this 
research is to establish and to determine force levels for the Bead 
Unseating Test and to establish a minimum force requirement and test 
values for the Road Hazard Impact Test. The specific aspects of testing 
in these two areas are discussed below.
1. Bead Unseating Research
    This research will be conducted in two testing phases. In Phase 1, 
potential bead unseat tests will be evaluated using a limited sample of 
tire types and sizes. In the first segment of Phase 1 testing (Phase 
1a), an initial series of tests will be performed to evaluate basic 
aspects of the test procedures, such as the effect of test parameter 
variation and repeatability. These tests will consist of the following:
    (1) FMVSS No. 109/110 Bead Unseat Test--tests completed when bead 
unseating or rim contact occurs.
    (2) Toyota Air Loss Bench Test--tests using wedge-shaped loading 
fixture, two variations for each of vertical load and load rate 
application (four combinations total).
    The Phase 1a testing will be conducted using five different brands 
of a single tire size. Four samples of each tire will be tested using 
each of the five tests and testing variations described above. A total 
of 100 bead unseat tests will be performed in Phase 1a.
    Based on the findings from Phase 1a, a second segment of Phase 1 
testing (Phase 1b) will be initiated within which promising test 
procedures will be further explored in an expanded matrix of tests. 
This testing will include utilizing a larger variety of tire types and 
sizes and/or additional variations in the selected test procedure(s).
    Based on the findings of Phase 1, a final test procedure will be 
selected for use in Phase 2. In Phase 2, a series of tests will be 
performed to evaluate the performance of the current tire fleet when 
subjected to the bead unseat test identified in Phase 1. The agency 
anticipates that approximately 50 different tire brands and sizes will 
be tested. A subset of 10 of these tires will be further selected for 
repeatability testing. Preliminary test results have been placed in the 
docket. NHTSA requests comments on the data.
2. Road Hazard Impact Test (SAE J1981) Research
    This testing will also be conducted in two phases. In Phase 1, 
potential tire strength tests will be evaluated, as well as potential 
methods for evaluating tire damage (i.e., pass/fail criteria). In the 
first segment of Phase 1 testing (Phase 1a), an initial series of tests 
will be performed to evaluate basic aspects of the test and evaluation 
procedures, such as the effect of test parameter variations, 
repeatability, and objectivity. This series of tests consist of the 
following:
    (1) FMVSS No. 109/119 plunger test--test completion when current 
pass/fail energy level is obtained.
    (2) Modified FMVSS No. 109 plunger tests--test completion when an 
increased energy level is reached. (The contractor will assist in the 
selection of the higher energy limit.)
    (3) SAE J1981 Road Hazard Impact Test--tests conducted with wedge-
shaped striker.
    (4) SAE J1981 Road Hazard Impact Test--tests conducted with 
plunger-shaped striker. The Phase 1a tests will be conducted using 10 
different types of tires, including different aspect ratios, brands, 
and models. One sample of each tire will be tested using the two FMVSS 
No. 109-type tests, and two samples of each will be tested using the 
SAE J1981-type tests. A total of 60 tire strength tests will be 
performed in Phase 1a. Prior to testing, all tires will be visually 
inspected for damage. After the strength tests are performed, all 60 
tires will be inspected for damage visually, using x-ray, and 
shearography.
    After the initial series of tests, 20 of the tested tires will be 
selected for high speed dynamometer testing. These tires are inspected 
using visual inspection, x-ray, and shearography.
    Based on the findings from Phase 1a, a second segment of Phase 1 
testing (Phase 1b) will be initiated where promising test procedures 
and evaluation methods will be further explored in an expanded matrix 
of tests. This testing will include utilizing a larger variety of tire 
types and sizes and/or additional variations in the selected test 
procedure(s) and evaluation method(s) than in the Phase 1a testing.
    Based on the findings of Phase 1, a final test procedure and damage 
evaluation method(s) will be selected for use in Phase 2. In Phase 2, a 
series of tests will be performed to evaluate the performance of the 
current tire fleet when subjected to the strength tests and evaluation 
method(s) identified in Phase 1. The agency anticipates that 
approximately 50 different tire models and sizes will be tested. A 
subset of these tires will be selected for further repeatability 
testing. Preliminary test results have been placed in the docket. NHTSA 
requests comments on the data.

I. Additional Considerations

1. Lead Time for Implementation of New Tire Standard
    Congress did not set a lead time by which all applicable tires 
would be required to meet the upgraded standard. The agency proposes 
two alternative implementation schedules: a two-year phase-in whereby 
all applicable tires must comply with the final rule by September 1, 
2004, and a three-year phase-in whereby all applicable tires must 
comply with the final rule by September 1, 2005.
    As mentioned above, the proposed new tire standard would apply to 
radial and non-radial tires for use on passenger cars, SUVs, vans, 
trailers, and pickup trucks, but not tires for motorcycles or heavy 
trucks. The applicability of this standard would consolidate the 
current FMVSS No. 109 and part of FMVSS No. 119. The agency anticipates 
that many P-metric tires rated C for UTQG Temperature Resistance will 
either have to be taken off the market or redesigned to pass the 
proposed tests. Similarly, the agency anticipates that a larger 
percentage of LT tires, than P-metric tires, will need to be redesigned 
to pass the proposed standard.
    Given the number of additional test requirements and possible 
design changes that may be required for some tires, particularly LT 
tires, the agency proposes a phase-in period that allows for up to 
three years for manufacturers to comply with the requirements of the 
new standard. The agency believes that a three-year phase-in period 
would give tire manufacturers sufficient time to make necessary design 
changes to their tires so that they will comply with the new 
requirements. A three-year phase-in period would also quickly provide 
the American public with tires that are

[[Page 10071]]

certified to a higher standard than presently exists. As an 
alternative, NHTSA also proposes a 2-year phase-in period. The details 
of both plans are discussed below.
    For the three-year phase-in, the agency proposes that beginning on 
September 1, 2003, approximately one year after issuance of the final 
rule, 50 percent of P-metric tires would be required to comply with the 
new standard. As of September 1, 2004, two years after the final rule 
is published, 100 percent of P-metric tires would be required to comply 
with the new standard. As for LT tires, 100 percent must comply with 
the new standard beginning on September 1, 2005, three years after 
issuance of the final rule. Under this implementation scheme, tire 
manufacturers would be required to provide the agency with tire 
production data for the year September 1, 2003 to August 31, 2004. This 
requirement would enable the agency to verify that tires certified to 
the new standard constitute 50 percent of a manufacturer's production 
of P-metric tires for that period of time. No production data would be 
required for subsequent years because all P-metric tires would be 
required to be certified to the new standard beginning on September 1, 
2004. Similarly, no production data would be required for LT tires 
because all LT tires would be required to be certified to the new 
standard beginning on September 1, 2005.
    As an alternative to the three-year implementation scheme, the 
agency proposes a two-year phase-in period. Beginning September 1, 
2003, 100 percent of P-metric tires would be required to be certified 
to the requirements of the new standard. Beginning September 1, 2004, 
100 percent of LT tires would be required to be certified to the 
requirements of the new standard. This implementation plan does not 
require manufacturers to provide production data because it does not 
contain provisions for partial compliance. Optional early compliance 
would be permitted by the agency for both alternatives.
2. Shearography Analysis
    Shearography analysis evaluates the condition of a tire using laser 
technology. This technology provides information on impending tread or 
belt separations that cannot be detected through visual inspection. 
While currently used in the tire industry, shearography analysis 
requires a technician to exercise his judgment in determining whether 
an indication of the size and prospective rate of growth of a belt or 
tread failure could lead to failure. This analysis has proven to be a 
valuable tool in analyzing tire failures during the agency's high speed 
and endurance testing program.\43\
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    \43\ In the STL testing, shearography analysis detected initial 
stages of belt separation in tires that completed the tests.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For the aforementioned reasons, the agency solicits comments on the 
appropriateness of specifying shearography analysis for inspection 
purposes, in addition to the visual inspection now required, to 
determine tire failure at the end of the high speed test, the endurance 
test, the low pressure performance test, and the road hazard impact 
test. In particular, the agency seeks comments on whether the physical 
indications of possible future tire failure can be described with 
sufficient specificity to fulfill the statutory requirement that FMVSSs 
be stated in objective terms.
3. Revised Testing Speeds in UTQG Temperature Grading Requirement
    The agency, in a future rulemaking, may propose to revise the 
testing speeds specified in the Uniform Tire Quality Grading (``UTQG'') 
temperature grading requirement in Part 575.104, Uniform Tire Quality 
Grading Standards, by allowing manufacturers to substitute the High 
Speed Test speed steps for those currently specified in UTQG, up to 100 
mph.
    The current temperature resistance test assigns a grade of A, B, C 
to a tire based on whether it completes or fails to complete a road 
wheel test for 30 minutes at a given speed. A tire is rated C if it 
fails to complete the test at 100 mph for 30 minutes, B if it completes 
the test at 100 mph for 30 minutes, and A if it completes the test at 
115 mph for 30 minutes. Under the UTQG test procedure, the test is 
initiated at 75 mph for 30 minutes and then successively increased in 5 
mph increments for 30 minutes each until the tire has run to 115 mph 
for 30 minutes. Therefore, tires with a temperature rating of C would 
be able to complete 30 minutes at speeds of 75, 80, 85, 90, and 95 mph 
(120, 128, 136, 144, and 152 km/h), but not complete the 100-mph (160 
km/h) step.
    Utilizing the proposed High Speed Test test speeds, a tire could 
simultaneously complete the High Speed Test speed steps of 140, 150, 
and 160 km/h (88, 94, 100 mph) and the first 6 speed steps of the UTQG 
testing procedure. NHTSA requests comments on whether manufacturers 
should be permitted to substitute, up to 100 mph, the High Speed Test 
speed steps for those currently specified in UTQG for the Temperature 
Grading requirement. The agency also requests comment on whether other 
revisions to the UTQG Temperature Grading requirements are warranted. 
Please be specific in your response and provide a basis for your 
answer.
4. Request for Comments on Particular Issues
    (1) The agency is participating in the development of a global tire 
standard as part of a cooperative worldwide effort, through the United 
Nations Economic Commission for Europe, to establish best safety and 
environmental practices for motor vehicle regulations. The test 
methodology contained in the proposed global tire standard was used by 
the agency in its evaluation of the high speed and endurance tests. 
However, the agency decided to use the methodology of FMVSS No. 109, 
with more stringent test parameters. Are there any voluntary consensus 
standards or requirements of other countries or regions (e.g., ECE R30) 
which address the issues raised in this NPRM? Do they provide effective 
ways of accomplishing the purposes of this rulemaking? What 
opportunities are there to accomplish the purposes of this rulemaking 
in ways that minimize any unnecessary differences between NHTSA's 
requirements and those of other countries and regions?
    (2) As noted previously in this NPRM, GM stated in its submission 
to the docket that while it supports both laboratory and real-world 
testing, it believes that real-world testing is more valuable. GM, 
however, did not present any specific proposals or data regarding the 
test procedures, conditions, specifications, or requirements that 
should comprise their proposed ``real-world'' testing. At this 
juncture, NHTSA believes that real-world testing is not practicable due 
to issues such as the selection of an appropriate control vehicle and 
vehicle and testing variability. The agency seeks comments on whether 
practicable and repeatable ``real-world'' testing procedures, 
conditions, and specifications exist and whether they could be utilized 
as part of a minimum performance standard.
    (3) Whereas FMVSS No. 109 specifies requirements for all tires for 
use on passenger cars manufactured after 1948, the proposal specifies 
an applicability containing a temporal limitation for vehicles 
manufactured after 1975. Since the mid-1970s, radial tires have held an 
increasingly predominate market share (over bias ply tires) in both the 
original equipment and replacement tire market. The proposed standard 
will apply to both bias ply and radial tires, however,

[[Page 10072]]

its testing procedures and requirements result from the testing and 
analysis of solely radial tires. The agency seeks comments on the 
appropriateness of specifying the vehicle model year 1975 as a 
limitation on the applicability of the proposed standard. Please be 
specific in your response and provide a basis for your answer.
    (4) For the purpose of testing tires and vehicles to determine 
their compliance, the agency specifies a limited number of permissible 
inflation pressures in both English and metric units. In FMVSS No. 109, 
the agency lists four inflation pressures, 32, 36, 40, or 60 psi, which 
were originally selected based on bias ply tires. In its proposed 
standard, the agency retains these tire inflation pressures in English 
units. The agency seeks comments on whether these four inflation 
pressures should be retained in the proposed standard and/or whether 
these inflation values should be translated into metric units. Please 
be specific in your response and provide a basis for your answer.

VII. Benefits

    For a fuller discussion of the benefits, see the agency's 
Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA). A copy of the PEA has been 
placed in the docket.
    The proposed rule would increase the strength, endurance, and heat 
resistance of tires by raising the stringency of the existing standard 
on road hazard, bead unseating, endurance, and high speed tests and by 
requiring a low pressure performance test. Tires that meet the improved 
tests would, presumably, experience fewer blowouts, tire failures and 
de-beading problems.
    Based on the tires tested by the agency, and on a comparison of 
their levels of performance in those tests to the level that they would 
need to achieve to pass the proposed tests, the agency estimates that 
tires would perform about 7 percent better in the high speed test and 
about 15 percent better in the endurance test. The agency considers 
these results additive, such that the total benefit from these two 
tests would be 22 percent for those tires that currently would not pass 
the proposed tests. We then assume that these percent improvements of 
the high speed and endurance tests directly relate to an improvement in 
safety. The agency cannot currently quantify the benefits of the other 
proposed tests.
    As discussed in the PEA, a target population, 414 fatalities and 
10,275 non-fatal injuries annually, can be estimated for tire problems 
(flat tire/blowout). However, the agency does not know how many of 
these crashes are influenced by tire design or under-inflation. The 
agency assumes that under-inflation is involved in 20 percent of flat 
tire/blowout cases that resulted in a crash. The agency assumes that 
the influence that under-inflation has on the chances of a blowout is 
affected by both tire pressure and the properties of the tire. 
Therefore, the agency assumes that proper inflation would represent 50 
percent of these cases and improved tires would represent the other 50 
percent of these cases. Consequently, 41 fatalities 
(414  x  .2  x  .5) and 1,028 injuries are being assigned to the TPMS 
Final Rule. This leaves the target population for this proposal at 373 
fatalities and 9,247 injuries.
    Assuming that the improvement in performance needed to pass the 
proposed High Speed and Endurance tests (estimated to be 22 percent) 
related to a reduction in flat tires/blowouts, the total potential 
improvement would be 82 lives saved (373  x  .22) and 2,034 injuries 
avoided if only those tires in the target population were those that 
needed improvements. If the tires having flats and blowouts were a 
random selection of all tires and only benefits accrued to those tires 
currently not passing the proposed tests (weighted to be 32.8 percent), 
then the benefits would be 27 lives saved (373  x  .22  x  .328) and 
667 injuries reduced when all tires on the road meet the proposed High 
Speed and Endurance test requirements. Additionally, there could be 
benefits from the proposed Low Inflation Pressure Performance tests and 
from the proposed Road Hazard and Bead Unseating tests.
    Furthermore, agency tire testing indicated that there is a 
significant variability in tires. If this variability could be reduced, 
many of the failed tires could pass the proposed tests. If variability 
in tires were reduced in the real world, this would alter the benefits 
that may occur from the proposed tests. The agency requests comments on 
this issue.

VIII. Costs

    The following is a summary of the costs associated with the 
proposed light vehicle tire standard. It is based on the increased 
stringency of the proposed high speed and endurance tests. For a more 
detailed analysis, see the agency's PEA.

A. Original Equipment Tire and Vehicle Costs

    The proposed tests will result in tires being designed that are 
less susceptible to heat build-up. The agency believes that many, if 
not all, of the P-metric tires rated C for Temperature resistance, some 
P-metric tires rated B for Temperature resistance and some LT tires 
will not be able to pass the proposed new tests. The agency has 
attempted to determine the difference in price between two tires that 
appear be similar in all characteristics except for temperature 
resistance where one is a B-rated tire and the other is a C-rated tire. 
There appears to be very few cases where every notable attribute 
(comparing tire size, warranty, tread wear, and traction) of two 
different tires are identical except for temperature resistance.
    The agency estimates that the difference in price between a B- or 
C-rated tire that may fail the proposed standard and a B-rated tire 
that would pass the proposed standard is $3 per tire (in 2001 dollars). 
Comments are requested on this estimate. Therefore, the cost 
differential for a vehicle model equipped with C-rated tires, depending 
on whether it has a full-size spare, is $12 to $15 per vehicle.
    Since only a portion of new vehicles are equipped with tires that 
would not meet the proposed standard, the agency estimates the average 
price increase for new vehicles by weighting the vehicles that would 
receive improvements at $3 per tire with the vehicles whose tires and 
prices would not change. In the Benefits section of the document, the 
agency estimated that 33 percent of 
P-metric and 29 percent of LT tires might not pass the proposed 
standard. Based on the data presented in this document for all crashes 
by light truck type, we estimate that 10 percent of light trucks have 
LT tires. Since future sales are estimated to be evenly split between 
passenger cars and light trucks, 5 percent of all light vehicles (10% 
x  0.5) would be equipped with LT tires. Therefore, the agency 
estimates that 32.8 percent of all light vehicle tires would not meet 
the proposed standard (0.33  x  95% of sales + 0.29  x  5% of sales). 
Thus, the cost of the proposed standard per average new vehicle is 
$3.94 to $4.92 per vehicle.\44\ The agency estimates that approximately 
85 percent of the light vehicle fleet (passenger cars, pickups, SUVs, 
and vans) are sold with a temporary spare tire. Thus, the average cost 
per vehicle for the new vehicle fleet would be $4.09 ($3.94  x  0.85 = 
$4.92  x  .15).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \44\ This range reflects whether the vehicle comes equipped with 
a temporary spare or full-sized spare tire.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If this proposal resulted in the lowest priced new tires being 
taken off the market (tires rated C for Temperature resistance appear 
to be lowest priced tires), there could be market effects on

[[Page 10073]]

new vehicle and aftermarket tire sales. One effect could be an 
increased popularity in alternatives to conventional new tires, such as 
temporary spare tires for new vehicles, and retreads and used tires in 
the aftermarket. These impacts are difficult to estimate and the agency 
seeks comments on this issue. Another effect may result from a tire 
manufacturer making tradeoffs in tire construction, e.g., in traction, 
treadwear and rolling resistance, to improve the heat resistance of his 
tires. To effect such a tradeoff, a tire manufacturer could alter the 
design construction of the core of the tire or could reduce the amount 
of tread on the tire. When one lessens the amount of tread on a tire, 
one lowers the heat build-up that occurs in the tire. This strategy has 
deleterious implications for treadwear and also serves to reduce the 
wet traction ability of the tire. The agency seeks comments on the 
relationship between tread depth and heat build-up.

B. Total Annual Costs

    The agency estimates that the lowest price aftermarket tire will 
increase by the same margin as the lowest priced OE tire, $3, to 
improve up to the performance levels required in the High Speed and 
Endurance Tests. If the cost for these improved tires was spread across 
the entire new light vehicle fleet, the average new vehicle price 
increase would, we estimate, be $4.09 per vehicle.
    The agency anticipates that 32.8 percent of the combined sales of 
P-metric and LT tires would not pass the High Speed and Endurance 
Tests. There are an estimated 287 million light vehicle tires sold of 
which 32.8 percent might increase in price by $3 per tire. The overall 
annual cost of these two tests for new original equipment and 
replacement tires is estimated at $282 million (287 million tires  x  
.328  x  $3) and the net costs per equivalent life saved would be about 
$7.2 million.
    We do not anticipate an increase in costs for the proposed Road 
Hazard Impact and Bead Unseatings tests because our testing indicates 
that most of all of current production tires would pass these tests. 
The agency has not conducted sufficient testing of the proposed Aging 
tests to anticipate their potential costs. The agency believes, 
however, that most manufacturers already perform an aging test. 
Therefore, it is likely that the incremental cost of adding an aging 
test would be minimal. With regard to the Low Inflation Pressure 
Performance tests, one alternative would provide no added costs because 
agency testing indicates that current production tires pass the test. 
Tires tested to the other alternative have a higher failure margin. 
Costs for this test cannot be characterized by the agency at this 
point.

C. Testing Costs

    The proposed light vehicle tire standard contains six tests with 
which every applicable tire must comply. Based on a time-based 
comparison between the time required to run the tests in FMVSS No. 109 
and the proposed FMVSS No. 139, the agency anticipates that the 
proposal will increase test time by 6.5 hours (an additional 5 hours 
for the endurance test and 90 minutes for the high-speed low inflation 
test). Labor costs associated with this additional time is estimated to 
be $53 per hour for a test engineer for the 90 minute low inflation 
pressure performance test and $31 per hour for a technician for the 90 
minute low inflation pressure performance test and for the additional 
final 5 hours of the proposed endurance test. Therefore, incremental 
tests costs are estimated to be $281 per tire run (1.5 hours  x  [$53 + 
$31] + 5 hours  x  $31).

D. Request for Comments on Costs and Benefits of Individual Tests

    As discussed above, the agency has only been able to provide 
preliminary estimates of the costs and benefits of the proposed high 
speed and endurance tests. Further, the agency has not been able to 
quantify the costs and benefits of the other four proposed tests. While 
our analysis would be made simpler if each proposed test yielded 
similar costs and benefits, the agency anticipates that each proposed 
test would produce differing levels of costs and benefits. To the 
extent that the data will allow, the agency requests that commenters 
evaluate each proposed test separately and quantify the costs and 
benefits of each of the six tests individually. The agency wishes to 
acquire information on which tests would be more costly and which tests 
would create the most benefits for passenger safety. This information 
will assist the agency in revising its estimates to provide a more 
precise and accurate evaluation of the costs and safety benefits of the 
six proposed tests and will aid the agency in determining which tests 
would become part of the new standard.

IX. Effective Date

    Section 10 of the TREAD Act requires the agency to issue a final 
rule on this tire upgrade proposal by June 1, 2002. Based on this 
issuance date, the agency proposes two alternative implementation 
schedules in section VI.H.1. of this document.

X. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

A. Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    Executive Order 12866, ``Regulatory Planning and Review'' (58 FR 
51735, October 4, 1993), provides for making determinations whether a 
regulatory action is ``significant'' and therefore subject to Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) review and to the requirements of the 
Executive Order. The Order defines a ``significant regulatory action'' 
as one that is likely to result in a rule that may:
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or 
adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or 
communities;
    (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in 
the Executive Order.
    NHTSA has considered the impact of this rulemaking action under 
Executive Order 12866 and the Department of Transportation's regulatory 
policies and procedures. This rulemaking document was reviewed by the 
Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866, 
``Regulatory Planning and Review.'' The rulemaking action has been 
determined to be economically significant. The proposal is likely to 
result in an expenditure by automobile manufacturers and/or tire 
manufacturers of $282 million in annual costs. NHTSA is placing in the 
public docket a Preliminary Economic Assessment (PEA) describing the 
costs and benefits of this rulemaking action. The costs and benefits 
are summarized earlier in this document.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) 
requires agencies to evaluate the potential effects of their proposed 
and final rules on small business, small organizations and small 
governmental jurisdictions. I hereby certify that the proposed 
amendment would not have a significant impact on a substantial number 
of small entities.
    The proposed rule would affect motor vehicle manufacturers and tire

[[Page 10074]]

manufacturers and/or suppliers. The agency does not believe that any of 
the tire manufacturers are small businesses. However, there are 
thousands of small tire retail outlets that will in some small way be 
impacted by this rule. As mentioned earlier, increasing the price of 
the less expensive tire could potentially allow used tires and retread 
tires to make more inroads into the tire retail business. This could 
impact small businesses. At this time, it is unknown whether the 
impacts will be insignificant and just an increase in price to 
consumers, or whether there will be some competitive effects brought 
about by the price increase.
    NHTSA estimates that there are only about four small passenger car 
and light truck vehicle manufacturers in the United States. These 
manufacturers serve a niche market. The agency believes that small 
manufacturers manufacture less than 0.1 percent of total U.S. passenger 
car and light truck production per year.
    NHTSA notes that final stage manufacturers and alterers could also 
be affected by this proposal. Many final stage manufacturers and 
alterers install supplier manufactured tires in vehicles they produce. 
The proposal would not have any significant effect on final stage 
manufacturers or alterers, however, since the tires they purchase 
should be tested and certified by the tire manufacturer and the 
potential cost impacts associated with this proposed action should only 
slightly affect the price of new motor vehicles and replacement tires.
    The agency requests comments concerning the economic impact of the 
proposed rule on small vehicle manufacturers, tire manufacturers, tire 
retail outlets, final stage manufacturers and vehicle alterers.
    Additional information concerning the potential impacts of the 
proposed requirements on small entities is presented in the PEA.

C. National Environmental Policy Act

    NHTSA has analyzed this proposal 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.

D. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    The agency has analyzed this rulemaking in accordance with the 
principles and criteria contained in Executive Order 13132 and has 
determined that it does not have sufficient federal implications to 
warrant consultation with State and local officials or the preparation 
of a federalism summary impact statement. The proposal would not have 
any substantial impact on the States, or on the current Federal-State 
relationship, or on the current distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various local officials.

E. Unfunded Mandates Act

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires 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 annually for inflation with base year of 1995). Adjusting 
this amount by the implicit gross domestic product price deflator for 
the year 2000 results in $109 million (106.99/98.11 = 1.09). The 
assessment may be included in conjunction with other assessments, as it 
is here.
    This proposal is not estimated to result in expenditures by State, 
local or tribal governments of more than $109 million annually. 
However, it is likely to result in the expenditure by automobile 
manufacturers and/or their tire manufacturers of more than $109 million 
annually. The average costs estimate in this analysis is $3 per tire. 
Estimating that 32.8 percent of 287 million light vehicle tires sold 
annually (including new vehicle tire sales and aftermarket tires sales 
but excluding temporary spare tires) results in $282 million in annual 
costs. These effects have been discussed in the PEA.

F. Civil Justice Reform

    This proposal would not have any retroactive effect. Under 49 
U.S.C. 21403, whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard is in 
effect, a State may not adopt or maintain a safety standard applicable 
to the same aspect of performance which is not identical to the Federal 
standard, except to the extent that the state requirement imposes a 
higher level of performance and applies only to vehicles procured for 
the State's use. 49 U.S.C. 21461 sets forth a procedure for judicial 
review of final rules establishing, amending or revoking Federal motor 
vehicle safety standards. That section does not require submission of a 
petition for reconsideration or other administrative proceedings before 
parties may file suit in court.

G. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    Under the National Technology and Transfer and Advancement Act of 
1995 (NTTAA) (Public Law 104-113), ``all Federal agencies and 
departments shall use technical standards that are developed or adopted 
by voluntary consensus standards bodies, using such technical standards 
as a means to carry out policy objectives or activities determined by 
the agencies and departments.'' Certain technical standards developed 
by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and other bodies have been 
incorporated into this proposal but the overall need for safety 
precludes, in NHTSA's view, the adoption of such voluntary standards as 
a substitute for this proposal for several reasons. First, no one 
voluntary standard contains all six of the proposed test procedures and 
requirements in this proposal. Second, voluntary consensus standards do 
not exist for several of the test procedures and requirements in the 
agency's proposal. Third, while the testing conditions and procedures 
of some voluntary standard have been incorporated by reference into the 
agency's proposal, the specified performance requirements of the 
voluntary standards are either different than those specified in our 
proposal or are non-existent.

H. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Department of Transportation is submitting the following 
information collection request to OMB for review and clearance under 
the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub.L. 104-13, 44 U.S.C. Chapter 
35).
    Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
    Title: Phase-In Production Reporting Requirements for new pneumatic 
tires for use on vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 
pounds or less.
    Type of Request: Routine.
    OMB Clearance Number: 2127-[XXXX].
    Affected Public: The respondents are manufacturers of tires. The 
agency estimates that there are about 75 such manufacturers.
    Estimate of the Total Annual Reporting and Recordkeeping Burden 
Resulting from the Collection of Information: NHTSA estimates that the 
total annual hour burden is 75 hours.
    Estimated Costs: NHTSA estimates the total cost annual burden, in 
dollars to be $0. No additional resources would be expended by 
manufacturers to gather annual production information because they 
already compile this data for their own uses.

[[Page 10075]]

    Summary of the Collection of Information: This collection would 
require manufacturers of new pneumatic tires to provide tire production 
data for the year September 1, 2003 to August 31, 2004.
    Description of the Need for the Information and Proposed Use of the 
Information: The purpose of the reporting requirements would be to aid 
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in determining 
whether a manufacturer of tires has complied with the requirements of 
Standard No. 139 during the phase-in of those requirements. NHTSA 
requests comments on the agency's estimates of the total annual hour 
and cost burdens resulting from this collection of information. These 
comments must be received on or before May 6, 2002.

I. Plain Language

    Executive Order 12866 and the President's memorandum of June 1, 
1998, require each agency to write all rules in plain language. 
Application of the principles of plain language includes consideration 
of the following questions:
     Have we organized the material to suit the public's needs?
     Are the requirements in the rule clearly stated?
     Does the rule contain technical language or jargon that 
isn't clear?
     Would a different format (grouping and order of sections, 
use of headings, paragraphing) make the rule easier to understand?
     Would more (but shorter) sections be better?
     Could we improve clarity by adding tables, lists, or 
diagrams?
     What else could we do to make the rule easier to 
understand?
    If you have any responses to these questions, please include them 
in your comments on this proposal.

XI. Submission of Comments

How Can I Influence NHTSA's Thinking on This Proposed Rule?

    In developing this proposal, we tried to address the concerns of 
all our stakeholders. Your comments will help us improve this rule. We 
invite you to provide different views on options we propose, new 
approaches we haven't considered, new data, how this proposed rule may 
affect you, or other relevant information. We welcome your views on all 
aspects of this proposed rule, but request comments on specific issues 
throughout this document. We grouped these specific requests near the 
end of the sections in which we discuss the relevant issues. Your 
comments will be most effective if you follow the suggestions below:
     Explain your views and reasoning as clearly as possible.
     Provide solid technical and cost data to support your 
views.
     If you estimate potential costs, explain how you arrived 
at the estimate.
     Tell us which parts of the proposal you support, as well 
as those with which you disagree.
     Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns.
     Offer specific alternatives.
     Refer your comments to specific sections of the proposal, 
such as the units or page numbers of the preamble, or the regulatory 
sections.
     Be sure to include the name, date, and docket number with 
your comments.

How Do I Prepare and Submit Comments?

    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your 
comments are correctly filed in the Docket, please include the docket 
number of this document in your comments.
    Your comments must not be more than 15 pages long. (49 CFR 553.21). 
We established this limit to encourage you to write your primary 
comments in a concise fashion. However, you may attach necessary 
additional documents to your comments. There is no limit on the length 
of the attachments.
    Please submit two copies of your comments, including the 
attachments, to Docket Management at the address given above under 
ADDRESSES.
    Comments may also be submitted to the docket electronically by 
logging onto the Dockets Management System website at http://
dms.dot.gov. Click on ``Help & Information'' or ``Help/Info'' to obtain 
instructions for filing the document electronically.

How Can I Be Sure That My Comments Were Received?

    If you wish Docket Management to notify you upon its receipt of 
your comments, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard in the 
envelope containing your comments. Upon receiving your comments, Docket 
Management will return the postcard by mail.

How Do I Submit Confidential Business Information?

    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of 
confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete 
submission, including the information you claim to be confidential 
business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given 
above under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, you should 
submit two copies, from which you have deleted the claimed confidential 
business information, to Docket Management at the address given above 
under ADDRESSES. When you send a comment containing information claimed 
to be confidential business information, you should include a cover 
letter setting forth the information specified in our confidential 
business information regulation. (49 CFR part 512.)

Will the Agency Consider Late Comments?

    We will consider all comments that Docket Management receives 
before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated 
above under DATES. To the extent possible, we will also consider 
comments that Docket Management receives after that date. If Docket 
Management receives a comment too late for us to consider it in 
developing a final rule (assuming that one is issued), we will consider 
that comment as an informal suggestion for future rulemaking action.

How Can I Read the Comments Submitted by Other People?

    You may read the comments received by Docket Management at the 
address given above under ADDRESSES. The hours of the Docket are 
indicated above in the same location.
    You may also see the comments on the Internet. To read the comments 
on the Internet, take the following steps:
    (1) Go to the Docket Management System (DMS) Web page of the 
Department of Transportation (https://www.regulations.gov/).
    (2) On that page, click on ``search.''
    (3) On the next page (https://www.regulations.gov/search/), type in the 
four-digit docket number shown at the beginning of this document. 
Example: If the docket number were ``NHTSA-1998-1234,'' you would type 
``1234.'' After typing the docket number, click on ``search.''
    (4) On the next page, which contains docket summary information for 
the docket you selected, click on the desired comments. You may 
download the comments. However, since the comments are imaged 
documents, instead of word processing documents, the downloaded 
comments are not word searchable.
    Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will 
continue to file relevant information in the Docket as it becomes 
available. Further, some people may submit late comments.

[[Page 10076]]

Accordingly, we recommend that you periodically check the Docket for 
new material.

XII. Proposed Regulatory Text

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 571

    Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles, Rubber and rubber 
products, and Tires.
    In consideration of the foregoing, we propose to amend 49 CFR part 
571 as follows:

PART 571--FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS

    1. The authority citation for part 571 would continue to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 20111, 30115, 30166 and 30177; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    2. Section 571.109 would be removed.
    3. Section 571.110, as proposed to be amended in the Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking published on December 19, 2001 (66 FR 65536), would 
be further amended by revising S4.2.1, S4.2.2, and S4.4.1(a), by adding 
S4.2.1.1, S4.2.1.2, S4.2.2.1, S4.2.2.2, S4.2.2.3, and S4.4.2 and by 
adding to S3 in alphabetical order, definitions for ``Rim size 
designation,'' ``Rim diameter,'' ``Rim width,'' ``Rim type 
designation,'' ``Weather side,'' to read as follows:


Sec. 571.110  Standard No. 110; Tire selection and rims for motor 
vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less.

* * * * *

S3.  Definitions

* * * * *
    Rim diameter means nominal diameter of the bead seat.
    Rim size designation means rim diameter and width.
    Rim type designation means the industry of manufacturer's 
designation for a rim by style or code.
    Rim width means nominal distance between rim flanges.
* * * * *
    Weather side means the surface area of the rim not covered by the 
inflated tire.
* * * * *

S4.2.1  Tire Load Limits for Passenger Cars

    S4.2.1.1 The vehicle maximum load on the tire shall not be greater 
than the applicable maximum load rating as marked on the sidewall of 
the tire.
    S4.2.1.2. The vehicle normal load on the tire shall not be greater 
than 85 percent (as specified in the high speed performance test in 
S6.1 of Sec. 571.139) of the load rating at the vehicle manufacturer's 
recommended cold inflation pressure for that tire.

S4.2.2  Tire Load Limits for Multipurpose Passenger Vehicles, Trucks, 
Buses, and Trailers

    S4.2.2.1 Except as provided in S4.2.2.2, the sum of the maximum 
load ratings of the tires fitted to an axle shall not be less than the 
GAWR of the axle system as specified on the vehicle's certification 
label required by 49 CFR part 567. If the certification label shows 
more than one GAWR for the axle system, the sum shall be not less than 
the GAWR corresponding to the size designation of the tires fitted to 
the axle. If the size designation of the tires fitted to the axle does 
not appear on the certification label, the sum shall not be less than 
the lowest GAWR appearing on the label.
    S4.2.2.2 When passenger car (P-metric) tires are installed on an 
MPV, truck, bus, or trailer, each tire's load rating is reduced by 
dividing it by 1.10 before determining, under S4.2.2.1, the sum of the 
maximum load ratings of the tires fitted to an axle.
    S4.2.2.3 (a) For vehicles equipped with P-metric tires, the vehicle 
normal load on the tire shall be no greater than the derated value of 
85 percent (as specified in the high speed performance test in S6.1 of 
Sec. 571.139) of the load rating at the vehicle manufacturer's 
recommended cold inflation pressure for that tire.
    (b) For vehicles equipped with LT tires, the vehicle normal load on 
the tire shall be no greater than 85 percent (as specified in the high 
speed performance test in S6.1 of Sec. 571.139) of the load rating at 
the vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold inflation pressure for that 
tire.
* * * * *
    S4.4.1 * * *
    (a) Be constructed to the dimensions of a rim that is listed by the 
manufacturer of the tires as suitable for use with those tires, in 
accordance with S4 of Sec. 571.139.
    (b) * * *
    S4.4.2. Rim markings for vehicles other than passenger cars. Each 
rim or, at the option of the manufacturer in the case of a single-piece 
wheel, each wheel disc shall be marked with the information listed in 
paragraphs (a) through (e) of this S4.4.2, in lettering not less than 3 
millimeters in height, impressed to a depth or, at the option of the 
manufacturer, embossed to a height of not less than 0.125 millimeters. 
The information listed in paragraphs (a) through (c) of this S4.2.2 
shall appear on the outward side. In the case of rims of multi piece 
construction, the information listed in paragraphs (a) through (e) of 
this S4.2.2 shall appear on the rim base and the information listed in 
paragraphs (b) and (d) of this S4.2.2 shall also appear on each other 
part of the rim.
    (a) A designation which indicates the source of the rim's published 
nominal dimensions, as follows:
    (1) ``T'' indicates The Tire and Rim Association.
    (2) ``E'' indicates The European Tyre and Rim Technical 
Organization.
    (3) ``J'' indicates Japan Automobile Tire Manufacturers'' 
Association, Inc.
    (4) ``D'' indicates Deutsche Industrie Norm.
    (5) ``S'' indicates Scandinavian Tire and Rim Organization.
    (6) ``A'' indicates The Tyre and Rim Association of Australia.
    (7) ``N'' indicates an independent listing pursuant to S4.1 of 
Sec. 571.139 or S5.1(a) of Sec. 571.119.
    (b) The rim size designation, and in case of multipiece rims, the 
rim type designation. For example: 20 x 5.50, or 20 x 5.5.
    (c) The symbol DOT, constituting a certification by the 
manufacturer of the rim that the rim complies with all applicable 
Federal motor vehicle safety standards.
    (d) A designation that identifies the manufacturer of the rim by 
name, trademark, or symbol.
    (e) The month, day and year or the month and year of manufacture, 
expressed either numerically or by use of a symbol, at the option of 
the manufacturer. For example: ``September 4, 2001'' may be expressed 
numerically as: ``90401'', ``904, 01'' or ``01, 904''; ``September 
2001'' may be expressed as: ``901'', ``9, 01'' or ``01, 9''.
    (1) Any manufacturer that elects to express the date of manufacture 
by means of a symbol shall notify NHTSA in writing of the full names 
and addresses of all manufacturers and brand name owners utilizing that 
symbol and the name and address of the trademark owner of that symbol, 
if any. The notification shall describe in narrative form and in detail 
how the month, day, and year or the month and year are depicted by the 
symbol. Such description shall include an actual size graphic depiction 
of the symbol, showing and/or explaining the interrelationship of the 
component parts of the symbol as they will appear on the rim or single 
piece wheel disc, including dimensional specifications, and where the 
symbol will be located on the rim or single piece wheel disc. The 
notification shall be received by NHTSA not less than 60 calendar days 
before the first use of the symbol. The notification

[[Page 10077]]

shall be mailed to the Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance (NSA-30), 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20590. All information provided to NHTSA under this 
paragraph will be placed in the public docket.
    (2) Each manufacturer of wheels shall provide an explanation of its 
date of manufacture symbol to any person upon request.
* * * * *
    4. Section 571.117, as proposed to be amended in the Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking published on December 19, 2001 (66 FR 65536), would 
be further amended by revising S1, S2, and S3, and by removing the 
phrase ``Sec. 571.109'' wherever it appears and adding in its place the 
phrase ``Sec. 571.139'' in S4.2, S5.1.1, S5.1.2, and S5.1.4, to read as 
follows:


Sec. 571.117  Standard No. 117; Retreaded pneumatic tires.

    S1. Scope. This standard specifies performance, labeling, and 
certification requirements for retreaded pneumatic tires for motor 
vehicles, except for motorcycles, with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less.
    S2. Purpose. The purpose of this standard is to require retreaded 
pneumatic tires for motor vehicles, except for motorcycles and 
trailers, with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less, to meet safety criteria 
similar to those for new pneumatic tires for those vehicles.
    S3. Application. This standard applies to retreaded pneumatic tires 
for use on motor vehicles, except for motorcycles, with a GVWR of 
10,000 pounds or less, manufactured after 1975.
* * * * *
    5. Section 571.119 would be amended by revising its heading, S1, 
S2, and S3, to read as follows:


Sec. 571.119  Standard No. 119; New pneumatic tires for motor vehicles 
with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds.

    S1. Scope. This standard establishes performance and marking 
requirements for tires for use on motor vehicles with a GVWR of more 
than 10,000 pounds and motorcycles.
    S2. Purpose. The purpose of this standard is to provide safe 
operational performance levels for tires used on motor vehicles with a 
GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds, trailers, and motorcycles, and to 
place sufficient information on the tires to permit their proper 
selection and use.
    S3. Application. This standard applies to new pneumatic tires 
designed for highway use on motor vehicles with a GVWR of more than 
10,000 pounds, trailers, and motorcycles manufactured after 1948.
* * * * *
    6. Tables I, II, and III, in the tables at the end of Sec. 571.119, 
would be revised to read as follows:

BILLING CODE 4910-59-P
[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP05MR02.000


[[Page 10078]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP05MR02.001


[[Page 10079]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TP05MR02.002

BILLING CODE 4910-59-C

[[Page 10080]]

    7. Section 571.120, as proposed to be amended in the Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking published on December 19, 2001 (66 FR 65536), would 
be further amended by revising S5.1.1, and S5.1.2 to read as follows:


Sec. 571.120  Standard No. 120; Tire selection and rims for motor 
vehicles with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds.

* * * * *
    S5.1.1 Except as specified in S5.1.3, each vehicle equipped with 
pneumatic tires for highway service shall be equipped with tires that 
meet the requirements of Sec. 571.119, New pneumatic tires for motor 
vehicles with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds, and rims that are 
listed by the manufacturer of the tires as suitable for use with those 
tires, in accordance with S5.1 of Sec. 571.119, except that vehicles 
may be equipped with a non-pneumatic spare tire assembly that meets the 
requirements of Sec. 571.129, New non-pneumatic tires for passenger 
cars, and S8 of this standard. Vehicles equipped with such an assembly 
shall meet the requirements of S5.3.3, S7, and S9 of this standard.
    S5.1.2 Except in the case of a vehicle which has a speed attainable 
in 3.2 kilometers of 80 kilometers per hour or less, the sum of the 
maximum load ratings of the tires fitted to an axle shall be not less 
than the gross axle weight rating (GAWR) of the axle system as 
specified on the vehicle's certification label required by 49 CFR part 
567. Except in the case of a vehicle which has a speed attainable in 2 
miles of 50 mph or less, the sum of the maximum load ratings of the 
tires fitted to an axle shall be not less than the gross axle weight 
rating (GAWR) of the axle system as specified on the vehicle's 
certification label required by 49 CFR part 567. If the certification 
label shows more than one GAWR for the axle system, the sum shall be 
not less than the GAWR corresponding to the size designation of the 
tires fitted to the axle. If the size designation of the tires fitted 
to the axle does not appear on the certification label, the sum shall 
be not less than the lowest GAWR appearing on the label.
* * * * *
    8. Section 571.129, as proposed to be amended in the Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking published on December 19, 2001 (66 FR 65536), would 
be further amended by revising S2, S4.2.2.4, S4.2.2.5, S4.2.2.6, and by 
removing S5.3 through S6, to read as follows:


Sec. 571.129--  New non-pneumatic tires for motor vehicles with a GVWR 
of 10,000 pounds or less.

* * * * *
    S2. Application. This standard applies to temporary non-pneumatic 
tires for use on motor vehicles, except for motorcycles, with a GVWR of 
10,000 pounds or less, manufactured after 1975.
* * * * *
    S4.2.2.4 Road Hazard Impact. Each new non-pneumatic tire shall 
comply with the requirements of S6.5 of Sec. 571.139.
    S4.2.2.5 Tire Endurance. Each new non-pneumatic tire shall comply 
with the requirements of S6.3 of Sec. 571.139.
    S4.2.2.6 High Speed Performance. Each new non-pneumatic tire shall 
comply with the requirements of S6.2 of Sec. 571.139.
* * * * *
    9. Section 571.139, as proposed to be added in the Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking published on December 19, 2001 (66 FR 65536), would 
be amended by adding S3, S5.1 through S5.4, S6 and S7 to read as 
follows:


Sec. 571.139  Standard No. 139; New pneumatic tires for motor vehicles 
with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less.

* * * * *

S3. Definitions.

    Bead means the part of the tire that is made of steel wires, 
wrapped or reinforced by ply cords and that is shaped to fit the rim.
    Bead separation means a breakdown of the bond between components in 
the bead.
    Bias ply tire means a pneumatic tire in which the ply cords that 
extend to the beads are laid at alternate angles substantially less 
than 90 degrees to the centerline of the tread.
    Carcass means the tire structure, except tread and sidewall rubber 
which, when inflated, bears the load.
    Chunking means the breaking away of pieces of the tread or 
sidewall.
    Cord means the strands forming the plies in the tire.
    Cord separation means the parting of cords from adjacent rubber 
compounds.
    Cracking means any parting within the tread, sidewall, or inner 
liner of the tire extending to cord material.
    CT means a pneumatic tire with an inverted flange tire and rim 
system in which the rim is designed with rim flanges pointed radially 
inward and the tire is designed to fit on the underside of the rim in a 
manner that encloses the rim flanges inside the air cavity of the tire.
    Extra load tire means a tire designed to operate at higher loads 
and at higher inflation pressures than the corresponding standard tire.
    Groove means the space between two adjacent tread ribs.
    Innerliner means the layer(s) forming the inside surface of a 
tubeless tire that contains the inflating medium within the tire.
    Innerliner separation means the parting of the innerliner from cord 
material in the carcass.
    Light truck (LT) tire means a tire designated by its manufacturer 
as primarily intended for use on lightweight trucks or multipurpose 
passenger vehicles.
    Load rating means the maximum load that a tire is rated to carry 
for a given inflation pressure.
    Maximum load rating means the load rating for a tire at the maximum 
permissible inflation pressure for that tire.
    Maximum permissible inflation pressure means the maximum cold 
inflation pressure to which a tire may be inflated.
    Measuring rim means the rim on which a tire is fitted for physical 
dimension requirements.
    Open splice means any parting at any junction of tread, sidewall, 
or innerliner that extends to cord material.
    Outer diameter means the overall diameter of an inflated new tire.
    Overall width means the linear distance between the exteriors of 
the sidewalls of an inflated tire, including elevations due to 
labeling, decorations, or protective bands or ribs.
    Ply means a layer of rubber-coated parallel cords.
    Ply separation means a parting of rubber compound between adjacent 
plies.
    Pneumatic tire means a mechanical device made of rubber, chemicals, 
fabric and steel or other materials, that, when mounted on an 
automotive wheel, provides the traction and contains the gas or fluid 
that sustains the load.
    Radial ply tire means a pneumatic tire in which the ply cords that 
extend to the beads are laid at substantially 90 degrees to the 
centerline of the tread.
    Reinforced tire means a tire designed to operate at higher loads 
and at higher inflation pressures than the corresponding standard tire.
    Rim means a metal support for a tire or a tire and tube assembly 
upon which the tire beads are seated.
    Section width means the linear distance between the exteriors of 
the sidewalls of an inflated tire, excluding elevations due to 
labeling, decoration, or protective bands.
    Sidewall means that portion of a tire between the tread and bead.

[[Page 10081]]

    Sidewall separation means the parting of the rubber compound from 
the cord material in the sidewall.
    Test rim means the rim on which a tire is fitted for testing, and 
may be any rim listed as appropriate for use with that tire.
    Tread means that portion of a tire that comes into contact with the 
road.
    Tread rib means a tread section running circumferentially around a 
tire.
    Tread separation means pulling away of the tread from the tire 
carcass.
    Treadwear indicators (TWI) means the projections within the 
principle grooves designed to give a visual indication of the degrees 
of wear of the tread.
    Wheel-holding fixture means the fixture used to hold the wheel and 
tire assembly securely during testing.
* * * * *

S5. General requirements

    S5.1. Size and construction. Each tire shall fit each rim specified 
for its size designation in accordance with S4.1.
    S5.2. Performance requirements. Each tire shall conform to each of 
the following:
    (a) It shall meet the requirements specified in S6 for its tire 
size designation, type, and maximum permissible inflation pressure.
    (b) It shall meet each of the applicable requirements set forth in 
paragraphs (c) and (d) of this S5.2, when mounted on a model rim 
assembly corresponding to any rim designated by the tire manufacturer 
for use with the tire in accordance with S4.
    (c) Except in the case of a CT tire, 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.
    (d) Its load rating shall be that specified either in a submission 
made by an individual manufacturer, pursuant to S4, or in one of the 
publications described in S4 for its size designation, type and each 
appropriate inflation pressure. If the maximum load rating for a 
particular tire size is shown in more than one of the publications 
described in S4, each tire of that size designation shall have a 
maximum load rating that is not less than the published maximum load 
rating, or if there are differing maximum load ratings for the same 
tire size designation, not less then the lowest published maximum load 
rating.
    S5.3. Test sample. For the tests specified in S6, use:
    (a) One tire for high speed;
    (b) Another tire for endurance and high speed low inflation 
pressure performance;
    (c) Another tire for road hazard impact test and bead unseating; 
and
    (d) A fourth tire for aging effects.
    S5.4. Treadwear indicators. Except in the case of tires with a 12-
inch or smaller rim diameter, each tire shall have not less than six 
treadwear indicators spaced approximately equally around the 
circumference of the tire that enable a person inspecting the tire to 
determine visually whether the tire has worn to a tread depth of one 
sixteenth of an inch. Tires with 12-inch or smaller rim diameter shall 
have not less than three such treadwear indicators.
* * * * *
    S6. Test procedures, conditions and performance requirements. Each 
tire shall meet all of the applicable requirements of this section when 
tested according to the conditions and procedures set forth in S5 and 
S6.1 through S6.7.

S6.1. Tire Dimensions

    S6.1.1 Test conditions and procedures.
    S6.1.1.1 Tire Preparation.
    S6.1.1.1.1 Mount the tire on the measuring rim specified by the 
tire manufacturer or in one of the publications listed in S4.1.1
    S6.1.1.1.2 In the case of a P-metric tire, inflate it to the 
pressure specified in the following table:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   Radial and bias-belted inflation pressure (kPa)    Diagonal (bias-ply)                    CT tires (kPa)
-----------------------------------------------------  inflation pressure     T-type   -------------------------
                                                             (kPa)          temporary
                                                     ---------------------  use spare
                Standard                  Reinforced       Ply rating       inflation     Standard    Reinforced
                                                     ---------------------   pressure
                                                        4      6      8       (kPa)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
180                                              220    170    190    220          420          230          270
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.1.1.1.3 In the case of a LT tire, inflate it to the pressure 
index given by the manufacturer.
    S6.1.1.1.4 Condition the assembly at 25 5 deg.C for not 
less than 24 hours.
    S6.1.1.1.5 Readjust the tire pressure to that specified in 
S6.1.1.2.

S6.1.1.2  Test Procedure

    S6.1.1.2.1 Measure the section width and overall width by caliper 
at six points approximately equally spaced around the circumference of 
the tire, avoiding measurement of the additional thickness of the 
special protective ribs or bands. The average of the measurements so 
obtained are taken as the section width and overall width, 
respectively.
    S6.1.1.2.2 Determine the outer diameter by measuring the maximum 
circumference of the tire and dividing the figure so obtained by Pi 
(3.14).
    S6.1.2 Performance Requirements. The actual section width and 
overall width for each tire measured in accordance with S6.1.1.2, shall 
not exceed the section width specified in a submission made by an 
individual manufacturer, pursuant to S4.1.1(a) or in one of the 
publications described in S4.1.1(b) for its size designation and type 
by more than:
    (a) (For tires with a maximum permissible inflation pressure of 32, 
36, or 40 psi) 7 percent, or
    (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.

S6.2  High Speed.

    S6.2.1 Test conditions and procedures.
    S6.2.1.1 Preparation of tire.
    S6.2.1.1.1 Mount the tire on a test rim and inflate it to the 
pressure specified for the tire in the following table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Test pressure
                    Tire application                          (kPa)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
P-metric:
    Standard load......................................              220
    Extra load.........................................              260
Load Range C...........................................              320
Load Range D...........................................              410
Load Range E...........................................              500
CT:
    Standard load......................................              270
    Extra load.........................................              310
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.2.1.1.2. Condition the assembly at 35  5 deg.C for 
not less than three hours.
    S6.2.1.1.3 Before or after mounting the assembly on a test axle, 
readjust the tire pressure to that specified in S6.2.1.1.1.
    S6.2.1.2. Test procedure.

[[Page 10082]]

    S6.2.1.2.1 Press the assembly against the outer face of a test drum 
with a diameter of 1.70 m  1%.
    S6.2.1.2.2 Apply to the test axle a load equal to 85% of the tire's 
maximum load carrying capacity.
    S6.2.1.2.3 Break-in the tire by running it for 15 minutes at 80 km/
h.
    S6.2.1.2.4 Allow tire to cool to 40 deg.C and readjust inflation 
pressure to applicable pressure in 6.2.1.1.1 immediately before the 
test.
    S6.2.1.2.5 Throughout the test, the inflation pressure is not 
corrected and the test load is maintained at the value applied in 
S6.2.1.2.2.
    S6.2.1.2.6 During the test, the ambient temperature, at a distance 
of not less than 150 mm and not more than 1 m from the tire, shall be 
maintained at not less than 40 deg. C.
    S6.2.1.2.7 The test is conducted, continuously and uninterrupted, 
for ninety minutes through three thirty minute consecutive test stages 
at the following speeds: 140, 150, and 160 km/h.
    S6.2.1.2.8 Not more than 15 minutes after running the tire for the 
specified time, measure its inflation pressure. Allow the tire to cool 
for one hour. Then, deflate the tire and remove it from the test rim.
    S6.2.2 Performance requirements. When the tire is tested in 
accordance with S6.2.1:
    (a) There shall be no visible evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, 
cord, innerliner, belt or bead separation, chunking, open splices, 
cracking, or broken cords.
    (b) The tire pressure, when measured not more than 15 minutes after 
the test, shall not be less than the initial pressure specified in 
S6.2.1.
    S6.3 Tire Endurance.
    S6.3.1 Test conditions and procedures.
    S6.3.1.1 Preparation of Tire.
    S6.3.1.1.1 Mount the tire on a test rim and inflate it to the 
pressure specified for the tire in the following table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Test pressure
                    Tire application                          (kPa)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
P-metric:
  Standard load........................................              180
  Extra load...........................................              220
LT:
  Load Range C.........................................              260
  Load Range D.........................................              340
  Load Range E.........................................              410
CT:
  Standard load........................................              230
  Extra load...........................................              270
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.3.1.1.2 Condition the assembly at 35  5 deg. C for 
not less than three hours.
    S6.3.1.1.3 Readjust the pressure to the value specified in 
S6.3.1.1.1 immediately before testing.
    S6.3.1.2. Test Procedure.
    S6.3.1.2.1 Mount the assembly on a test axle and press it against 
the outer face of a smooth wheel having a diameter of 1.70 m 
 1%.
    S6.3.1.2.2 During the test, the ambient temperature, at a distance 
of not less than 150 mm and not more than 1 m from the tire, shall not 
be less than 40 deg. C.
    S6.3.1.2.3 Conduct the test, without interruptions, at not less 
than 120 km/h test speed with loads and test periods not less than 
those shown in the following table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Load as a
                                                           percentage of
               Test period                   Duration      tire maximum
                                              (hours)       load rating
                                                             (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................               8              90
2.......................................              10             100
3.......................................              22             110
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.3.1.2.4 Throughout the test, the inflation pressure is not 
corrected and the test loads are maintained at the value corresponding 
to each test period, as shown in the table in S6.3.1.2.3.
    S6.3.1.2.5 Not more than 15 minutes after running the tire for the 
time specified in the table in S6.3.1.2.3, measure its inflation 
pressure. Allow the tire to cool for one hour. Then, deflate the tire 
and remove it from the test rim.
    S6.3.2 Performance requirements. When the tire is tested in 
accordance with S6.3.1:
    (a) There shall be no visible evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, 
cord, innerliner, belt or bead separation, chunking, open splices, 
cracking or broken cords.
    (b) The tire pressure, when measured not more than 15 minutes after 
the test, shall not be less than the initial pressure specified in 
S6.1.1.
    S6.4 Low Inflation Pressure Performance.
    S6.4.1 Test conditions and procedures.
    S6.4.1.1 Preparation of tire.
    S6.4.1.1.1 Mount the same tire tested in accordance with 6.3 on a 
test rim and inflate it to the following appropriate pressure:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Test pressure
                    Tire application                          (kPa)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
P-metric:
  Standard load........................................              140
  Extra load...........................................              160
LT:
  Load Range C.........................................              200
  Load Range D.........................................              260
  Load Range E.........................................              320
CT:
  Standard load........................................              170
  Extra load...........................................              180
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.4.1.1.2 Condition the assembly at 35  5 deg. C for 
not less than three hours.
    S6.4.1.1.3 Before or after mounting the assembly on a test axle, 
readjust the tire pressure to that specified in S6.3.1.1.1.

[Proposed S6.4.1.2 through S6.4.1.2.6--Alternative 1]

    S6.4.1.2 Test procedure.
    S6.4.1.2.1 The test is conducted for ninety minutes at the end of 
the test specified in S6.3, continuous and uninterrupted, at a speed of 
120 km/h.
    S6.4.1.2.2 Press the assembly against the outer face of a test drum 
with a diameter of 1.70 m  1%.
    S6.4.1.2.3 Apply to the test axle a load equal to 100% of the 
tire's maximum load carrying capacity.
    S6.4.1.2.4 Throughout the test, the inflation pressure is not 
corrected and the test load is maintained at the initial level.
    S6.4.1.2.5 During the test, the ambient temperature, at a distance 
of not less than 150 mm and not more than 1 m from the tire, is 
maintained at not less than 40 deg. C.
    S6.4.1.2.6 Not more than 15 minutes after running the tire for the 
specified time, measure its inflation pressure. Allow the tire to cool 
for one hour. Then, deflate the tire and remove it from the test rim.

[[Page 10083]]

[Proposed S6.4.1.2 through S6.4.1.2.6--Alternative 2]

    S6.4.1.2 Test procedure.
    S6.4.1.2.1 Press the assembly against the outer face of the test 
drum.
    S6.4.1.2.2. Apply to the test axle a load equal to 67% of the 
tire's maximum load carrying capacity.
    S6.4.1.2.3 Throughout the test, the inflation pressure is not 
corrected and the test load is maintained at the original level.
    S6.4.1.2.4 During the test, the ambient temperature, at a distance 
of not less than 150 mm and not more than 1 m from the tire, is 
maintained at not less than 40 deg. C.
    S6.4.1.2.5 The test is conducted, continuously and uninterrupted, 
for ninety minutes through three consecutive test stages of 30 minutes 
each at the following speeds: 140, 150, and 160 km/h.
    S6.4.1.2.6 Allow the tire to cool for one hour. Then deflate the 
tire and remove it from the test rim.
    S6.4.2 Performance requirements. When the tire is tested in 
accordance with S6.4.1:
    (a) There shall be no visible evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, 
cord, innerliner, belt or bead separation, chunking, open splices, 
cracking, or broken cords. For tires tested at a speed of 300 km/h or 
above, superficial blistering in the tire tread due to localized heat 
build-up in the test drum is acceptable.
    (b) The tire pressure, when measured not more than 15 minutes after 
the test, shall not be less than the initial pressure specified in 
S6.4.1.1.1.

S6.5  Road Hazard Impact.

    S6.5.1 Test conditions and procedures.
    S6.5.1.1 Test conditions.
    S6.5.1.1.1 The tire is prepared and mounted on the equipment in 
accordance with section 3.2 of SAE Recommended Practice J1981 (JUN94), 
Road Hazard Impact Test for Wheel and Tire Assemblies (Passenger Car, 
Light Truck, and Multipurpose Vehicles).
    S6.5.1.1.2 The test pressure shall be inflated to the appropriate 
test pressure:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Test pressure
                    Tire application                          (kPa)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
P-metric:                                                ...............
    Standard load......................................              180
    Extra load.........................................              220
LT:
    Load Range C.......................................              260
    Load Range D.......................................              340
    Load Range E.......................................              410
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.5.1.2 Test procedures. The test is conducted in accordance with 
the test procedures described in section 3.3 of SAE Recommended 
Practice J1981 (JUN94). Initiate the test by raising the pendulum to a 
drop height based on a pendulum centerline angle of 80 degrees to the 
vertical. Repeat the test so that the impact occurs at five test points 
equally spaced around the circumference of the tire.
    S6.5.2 Performance requirements.
    S6.5.2.1 When the tire has been tested in accordance with S6.5.1.2 
using a test rim that undergoes no permanent deformation, the test 
pressure shall not be less than the initial test pressures specified in 
S6.5.1.1.
    S6.5.2.2 There shall be no visible evidence of tread, sidewall, 
ply, cord, inner liner, belt or bead separation, chunking, open 
splices, cracking, or broken cords.

S6.6  Bead Unseating.

    S6.6.1 Test conditions and procedures.
    S6.6.1.1 Test conditions.
    S6.6.1.1.1 Tire inclination angle. The tire inclination angle is 
5 deg. to the vertical axis.
    S6.6.1.1.2 Simulated road surface inclination angle. The simulated 
road surface inclination angle is 10 deg. to the horizontal. The road 
surface shall be free from rubber and other substances.
    S6.6.1.1.3 Tire mounting. No lubricant, such as soapy water, is 
used when mounting tire. The tire inflation pressure, after mounting, 
is set at the appropriate test pressure:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Test pressure
                    Tire Application                          (kPa)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
P-metric:
    Standard load......................................              180
    Extra load.........................................              220
LT:
    Load Range C.......................................              260
    Load Range D.......................................              340
    Load Range E.......................................              410
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.6.1.2 Test procedure. Apply a lateral force of 2.0 times the 
maximum tire load labeled on the tire sidewall at a rate of 220 
millimeters per second (mm/s) to the tire, and maintain the lateral 
force for 20 seconds. Repeat the test at no less than four points 
equally spaced around the tire circumference.
    S6.6.2 Performance requirements. When a tire is tested in 
accordance with S6.6.1.2., no air loss shall occur.

S6.7  Aging Effects.

[Proposed S6.7.1 through S6.7.2--Alternative 1]

    S6.7.1. Test conditions and procedures.

S6.7.1.1 Preparation of Tire.

    S6.7.1.1.2 Mount the tire on a test rim and inflate it to the 
pressure specified in the following table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Test pressure
                    Tire application                          (kPa)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
P-metric:
    Standard load......................................              180
    Extra load.........................................              220
LT:
    Load Range C.......................................              260
    Load Range D.......................................              340
    Load Range E.......................................              410
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.7.1.1.3 Condition the assembly at 35  5 deg. C for 
not less than three hours.
    S6.7.1.1.4 Readjust the pressure to the value specified in 
S6.6.1.1.2 immediately before testing.
    S6.7.1.2 Test Procedure.
    S6.7.1.2.1 Mount the assembly on a test axle and press it against 
the outer face of a smooth wheel having a diameter of 1.70 m 
 1%.
    S6.7.1.2.2 During the test, the ambient temperature, at a distance 
of not less than 150 mm and not more than 1 m from the tire, is not 
less than 40 deg. C.
    S6.7.1.2.3 Conduct the test, without interruptions, at not less 
than 120 km/h (75 mph) test speed for 24 hours with loads not less than 
those shown in the following table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                               Load as a
                                                              percentage
                                                                of tire
                   Test period                      Duration    maximum
                                                    (hours)      load
                                                                rating
                                                               (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1................................................          8          90
2................................................          8         100
3................................................          8         100
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.7.1.2.4 Throughout the test, the inflation pressure is not 
corrected and the test loads are kept constant at the value 
corresponding to each test period.
    S6.7.1.2.5 Allow the tire to cool for one hour. Then, deflate the 
tire and remove it from the test rim.
    S6.7.2 Performance requirements. The tire, after being tested in 
accordance with S6.7.1.2, exhibits a peel strength of not less than 30 
pounds per inch in accordance with American Society for Testing and 
Materials Method D 413-98 (Machine Method).

[Proposed S6.7.1 through S6.7.2--Alternative 2]

S6.7.1  Test conditions and procedures.

    S6.7.1.1 Preparation of tire.
    S6.7.1.1.2 Mount the tire on a test rim and inflate it, with a gas 
blend of 50% O2 (oxygen) and 50% N2 (nitrogen), 
to

[[Page 10084]]

the pressure specified in the following table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Test pressure
                    Tire application                          (kPa)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
P-metric...............................................              275
LT:
  Load Range C.........................................              390
  Load Range D.........................................              450
  Load Range E.........................................              550
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.7.1.1.3 Condition the assembly at 35  5 deg. C for 
not less than three hours.
    S6.7.1.1.4 Readjust the pressure to the value specified in 
S6.6.1.1.2 immediately before testing.
    S6.7.1.2. Test Procedure.
    S6.7.1.2.1 Mount the assembly on a test axle and press it against 
the outer face of a smooth wheel having a diameter of 1.70 m 
 1%.
    S6.7.1.2.2 During the test, the ambient temperature, at a distance 
of not less than 150 mm and not more than 1 m from the tire, is not 
less than 40 deg. C.
    S6.7.1.2.3 Conduct the test, without interruptions, at not less 
than 96 km/h (60 mph) for 250 hours with loads not less than those 
shown in the following table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Load as a
                                                         percentage of
                   Tire application                    tire maximum load
                                                             rating
                                                           (perecent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
P-metric.............................................                111
LT:
  Load Range C.......................................                112
  Load Range D.......................................                 98
  Load Range E.......................................                 92
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.7.1.2.4 Throughout the test, the inflation pressure is not 
corrected and the test loads are maintained at the original level.
    S6.7.1.2.5 Not more than 15 minutes after running the tire the 
specified time, measure its inflation pressure. Allow the tire to cool 
for one hour. Then, deflate the tire and remove it from the test rim.
    S6.7.2 Performance requirements. When the tire is tested in 
accordance with S6.7.1:
    (a) There shall be no visible evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, 
cord, inner liner, belt or bead separation, chunking, open splices, 
cracking or broken cords.
    (b) The tire pressure, when measured not more than 15 minutes after 
the test, shall not be less than the initial pressure specified in 
S6.1.1.

[Proposed S6.7.1 through S6.7.2--Alternative 3]

    S6.7.1. Test conditions and procedures.
    S6.7.1.1. Preparation of Tire.
    S6.7.1.1.2 Condition tire in an oven at 75 deg.C (167 deg.F), 
continuously and uninterrupted for 14 days.
    S6.7.1.1.2. Mount the tire on a test rim and inflate it to the 
pressure specified in the following table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                          Test pressure
                    Tire application                          (kPa)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
P-metric:
  Standard.............................................              180
  Reinforced...........................................              220
LT:
  Load Range C.........................................              260
    Load Range D.......................................              340
    Load Range E.......................................              410
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.7.1.1.3. Condition the assembly at 35  5 deg. C for 
not less than three hours.
    S6.7.1.1.4. Readjust the pressure to the value specified in 
S6.3.1.1.2 immediately before testing.
    S6.7.1.2. Test Procedure.
    S6.7.1.2.1. Mount the assembly on a test axle and press it against 
the outer face of a smooth wheel having a diameter of 1.70 m 
 1%.
    S6.7.1.2.2. During the test, the ambient temperature, at a distance 
of not less than 150 mm and not more than 1 m from the tire, is not 
less than 40 deg. C.
    S6.7.1.2.3. Conduct the test, without interruptions, at not less 
than 120 km/h test speed with loads and test period not less than those 
shown in the following table:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                             Load as a
                                                           percentage of
               Test period                   Duration      tire maximum
                                              (hours)       load rating
                                                             (percent)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.......................................               8              90
2.......................................               8             100
3.......................................               8             110
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    S6.7.1.2.4. Throughout the test the inflation pressure is not 
corrected and the test loads are maintained at the value corresponding 
to each test period.
    S6.7.1.2.5. Not more than 15 minutes after running the tire the 
specified time, measure its inflation pressure. Allow the tire to cool 
for one hour. Then, deflate the tire and remove it from the test rim.
    S6.7.2. Performance requirements. When the tire is tested in 
accordance with S6.7.1:
    (a) There shall be no visible evidence of tread, sidewall, ply, 
cord, inner liner, belt or bead separation, chunking, open splices, 
cracking or broken cords.
    (b) The tire pressure, when measured not more than 15 minutes after 
the test, shall not be less than the initial pressure specified in 
S6.1.1.

[Proposed S7 through S7.3--Alternative 1]

S7. Phase-In Schedule

    S7.1 P-metric tires manufactured on or after September 1, 2003 and 
before September 1, 2004. For tires manufactured by a manufacturer on 
or after September 1, 2003 and before September 1, 2004, the amount of 
tires complying with S4 through S6 must be 50 percent of the 
manufacturers production of P-metric tires during that period.
    S7.2 P-metric tires manufactured on or after September 1, 2004. 
Each P-metric tire manufactured on or after September 1, 2004 must 
comply with S4 through S6 of this standard.
    S7.3 LT tires manufactured on or after September 1, 2005. Each LT 
tire manufactured on or after September 1, 2005 must comply with S4 
through S6 of this standard.

[Proposed S7 through S7.3--Alternative 2]

S7. Phase-In Schedule

    S7.1 P-metric tire manufactured on or after September 1, 2003. Each 
P-metric tire manufactured on or after September 1, 2003 must comply 
with S4 through S6 of this standard.
    S7.2 LT tires manufactured on or after September 1, 2004. Each LT 
tire manufactured on or after September 1,

[[Page 10085]]

2004 must comply with S4 through S6 of this standard.
    10. Part 597 would be added to read as follows:

PART 597--TIRES FOR MOTOR VEHICLES WITH A GVWR OF 10,000 POUNDS OR 
LESS PHASE-IN REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

Sec.
597.1  Scope.
597.2  Purpose.
597.3  Applicability.
597.4  Definitions.
597.5  Response to inquiries.
597.6  Reporting requirements.
597.7  Records.
597.8  Petition to extend period to file report.

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


Sec. 597.1  Scope.

    This part establishes requirements for manufacturers of new 
pneumatic tires for motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating 
of 10,000 pounds or less to submit a report, and maintain records 
related to the report, concerning the number of such tires the meet the 
requirements of Standard No. 139 (49 CFR 571.139).


Sec. 597.2  Purpose.

    The purpose of these reporting requirements is to assist the 
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in determining whether a 
manufacturer has complied with Standard No. 139 (49 CFR 571.139).


Sec. 597.3  Applicability.

    This part applies to manufacturers of tires for motor vehicles with 
a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less.


Sec. 597.4  Definitions.

    (a) All terms defined in 49 U.S.C. 30102 are used in their 
statutory meaning.
    (b) Motor vehicle and gross vehicle weight rating are used as 
defined in 49 CFR 571.3.
    (c) Production year means the 12-month period between September 1 
of one year and August 31 of the following year, inclusive.


Sec. 597.5  Response to inquiries.

    At anytime beginning September 1, 2003, each manufacturer shall, 
upon request from the Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, provide 
information identifying the tires (by make, model, brand and tire 
identification number) that have been certified as complying with 
Standard No. 139 (49 CFR 571.139). The manufacturer's designation of a 
tire as a certified tire is irrevocable.


Sec. 597.6  Reporting requirements.

    (a) General reporting requirements. Within 60 days after the end of 
the production year ending August 31, 2004, each manufacturer shall 
submit a report to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
concerning its compliance with Standard No. 139 (49 CFR 571.139) for 
its P-metric tires produced in that year for motor vehicles with a GVWR 
of 10,000 pounds or less. Each report shall--
    (1) Identify the manufacturer;
    (2) State the full name, title, and address of the official 
responsible for preparing the report;
    (3) Identify the production year being reported on;
    (4) Contain a statement regarding whether or not the manufacturer 
complied with Standard No. 139 (49 CFR 571.139) for the period covered 
by the report and the basis for that statement;
    (5) Provide the information specified in paragraph (b) of this 
section;
    (6) Be written in the English language; and
    (7) Be submitted to: Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590.
    (b) Report Content. (1) Basis for phase-in production goals. Each 
manufacturer shall provide the number of new pneumatic tires for motor 
vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less 
manufactured for sale in the United States for each of the three 
previous production years, or, at the manufacturer's option, for the 
current production year. A new manufacturer that has not previously 
manufactured these vehicles for sale in the United States shall report 
the number of such vehicles manufactured during the current production 
year.
    (2) Production. Each manufacturer shall report for the production 
year for which the report is filed: the number of new pneumatic tires 
for motor vehicles with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or less that meet 
Standard No. 139 (49 CFR 571.139).


Sec. 597.7  Records.

    Each manufacturer must maintain records of the tire identification 
number for each tire for which information is reported under 
Sec. 590.6(b)(2) until December 31, 2006.


Sec. 597.8  Petition to extend period to file report.

    A manufacturer may petition for extension of time to submit a 
report under this part. A petition will be granted only if the 
petitioner shows good cause for the extension and if the extension is 
consistent with the public interest. The petition must be received not 
later than 15 days before expiration of the time stated in 
Sec. 597.6(a). The filing of a petition does not automatically extend 
the time for filing a report. The petition must be submitted to: 
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 
Seventh Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20590.

    Issued: February 27, 2002.
Stephen R. Kratzke,
Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.
[FR Doc. 02-5151 Filed 2-28-02; 10:44 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P