Mr. Lawrence N. Lavigne
Vice President Operations/General Counsel
Foreign Tire Sales, Inc.
2204 Morris Ave., Suite L-5
Union, NJ 07083
Dear Mr. Lavigne:
This letter responds to your September 29, 2009 request for interpretation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 119, New pneumatic tires for motor vehicles with a GVWR of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) and motorcycles. You ask whether you may import a particular size special trailer tire. You note that the tire is not listed in the publication of a tire organization listed in S5.1(b), but that an identically sized light truck tire is listed. As we explain below, there may be a way for you to import such a tire for sale in the United States.
By way of background, S5.1 of FMVSS No. 119 requires that each tire manufacturer ensure that a listing of the rims suitable for that manufacturers tires is provided to the public. There are two ways of complying with this requirement. First, a document listing suitable rims is made available by the manufacturer to tire dealers, NHTSA, and other parties upon request. If this approach is chosen, each rim listing must include dimensional specifications and a diagram of the rim. Second, the listing of suitable rims can be made available in publications of one of the following organizations: (1) The Tire and Rim Association; (2) The European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation; (3) Japan Automobile Tire Manufacturers Association, Inc.; (4) Deutsche Industrie Norm; (5) British Standards Institution; (6) Scandinavian Tire and Rim Organization; and (7) The Tyre and Rim Association of Australia. If the latter method is used, the listing need not include dimensional specifications or a diagram of a rim if the information is contained in the publication.
You ask specifically about an all steel radial special trailer tire size ST235/85R16 14-ply rated. You note that this designation is not found in the Tire and Rim Association yearbook. We note that there are seven different organizations whose publications may have the necessary information. Also, that information can be submitted to NHTSA. Although you have not stated that you consulted all seven organizations publications or NHTSAs database, we will presume for the purpose of this letter that the information about the tire in question has not been provided to NHTSA or published in any of the seven organizations publications.
Nevertheless, you may request that the tires manufacturer provide the rim listings and specifications to NHTSA. Alternatively, you may obtain the necessary information from the tires manufacturer and provide it to NHTSA. As the importer of the tire, you would fall under the statutory definition of manufacturer of the tire. If either you, as the importer, or the tires original manufacturer provides the necessary information to NHTSA (or, alternatively, has the data published in one of the listed organizations publications), and the tire meets all of the other requirements of FMVSS No. 119, including performance, treadwear indicator, and tire marking requirements, you may import the tire for sale in the United States.
Although you state that your engineer has verified the loads and pressures of the tire in question, the fact remains that the tire manufacturer has not provided the information required by S5.1. You note that the Tire and Rim Association yearbook lists tire size LT235/85R16 14-ply rated. This tire is a light truck tire. You ask us to allow you to interpret FMVSS No. 119 to allow you to import a special trailer tire that is the same size. We cannot do so. The exact tire you wish to import must be in NHTSAs database or one of the tire organizations publications. The light truck tire you refer to is not the same tire you wish to import. The tire you wish to import is subject to a different Federal motor vehicle safety standard. See 49 CFR 571.139. The tire you wish to import and sell is for special trailers and, based on your representation, is not in the appropriate publication. Accordingly, you cannot import for sale in the United States the tire in question based on the appearance of this light truck tire in the Tire and Rim Association yearbook.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact David Jasinski of my office at (202) 366-2992.
O. Kevin Vincent