Mr. Herb Wolff
Sam's International Trade U.S.A.
4501 North Dixie Highway
Oakland Park, FL 33334

Dear Mr. Wolff:

This responds to your letter of January 31, 1996, to Walter Myers of my staff in which you ask whether the terms "textile" or "generic textile" are sufficient descriptions of tire cord composition to comply with paragraph S6.3.2(c) of Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) No. 117, Retreaded pneumatic tires. As discussed below, the answer is no.

You explain in your letter that you intend to import a line of bead-to-bead remanufactured tires from England, on which the cord description on the tires reads:

Plies tread 2 steel & 2 textile sidewall 1 textile

or

Plies tread 2 steel & 2 organic textile sidewall 1 organic textile

You state that the purpose of that phraseology is to be descriptive, yet sufficiently generic to use with sidewall construction and tread plies of rayon, nylon, or polyester. You include some tracings from the sidewalls of similarly-labeled remolded tires on which the word "textile" is also used.

The labeling requirement for pneumatic tires is established by section 30123 of Title 49, U.S. Code. That section requires that all tires be permanently and conspicuously labeled with certain safety information, including "the composition of material used in the ply of the tire." That requirement is implemented in paragraph S6.3.2(c) of FMVSS No. 117, which specifies that all tires be labeled with:

(c) The generic name of each cord material used in the plies (both sidewall and tread area) of the tire.

The word "textile" is a generic term that applies to the gamut of woven or knitted fabrics. It is so general that, if not actually misleading, it is noninformative in that it does not distinguish between such natural fabrics or fibers as cotton, wool, and silk, and synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon, all of which have totally different characteristics. Although tire cords are made from some of the same synthetic materials as textiles, such as nylon and rayon, other textiles such as silk and cotton are not suitable for tire cords. Accordingly, since textiles are commonly understood to be woven or knitted fabrics, merely labeling Atextile@ to describe tire cords does not sufficiently distinguish between tire cord materials and their different characteristics.

Tire cords are made from many different materials such as rayon, nylon, polyester, steel, glass, and various other polyamides, each of which has different composition and different performance characteristics. The many different cord materials and their many different characteristics enable a tire to be specially geared to its anticipated use. Thus, the specific generic composition, such as nylon, rayon, steel, etc., rather than merely Atextile,@ must be labeled on tires to enable tire purchasers to select the characteristics they want in a given tire.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you have any further questions or need additional information, feel free to contact this office at this address or at (202) 366-2992.

Sincerely,

Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel ref: #109#117#119 d:3/29/96