25133 Anza Drive, Suite A
Santa Clarita, CA 91355
Dear Mr. Burkhardt:
This responds to your telefax dated October 21, 1996, addressed to Walter Myers of my staff and your telephone conversations with Mr. Myers on October 18 and 23, 1996. You stated that your company received a shipment of passenger car tires that were not marked with the Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards (UTQGS) ratings and asked that this agency waive "the stamping of UTGQ (sic)." Please be advised that this agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has no authority to waive the UTQGS requirements.
You stated that on October 2, 1996 your company received about 5,000 Michelin MXF tires of two different sizes that you think were produced in Thailand, and that "this is the first time that this tire has been imported." In response to your October 18 telephone conversation, Mr. Myers telefaxed to you copies of four previous interpretation letters issued by this office explaining the various UTQGS labeling requirements and their exceptions. In your October 23 conversation, you told Mr. Myers that you had read the letters and asked if we had any advice for you.
The UTQGS, found at 49 Code of Federal Regulations, 575.104 (copy enclosed), require that all new tires sold in the United States be graded for treadwear, traction, and temperature resistance, and that those grades or ratings be marked on the sidewall of each tire (575.104(d)(1)(i)(A)).
In addition, the ratings for each individual tire must be shown and explained on labels attached to the tread of each tire so as not to be easily removable ((d)(1)(i)(B)(2)). There are, however, two exceptions to the above requirements:
- Tires of a new tire line need not have the UTQGS ratings marked on the sidewalls if the tires were manufactured within the first six months of production of the tire line ((d)(1)(i)(A)). The tread label required by (d)(1)(i)(B)(2) is still required, however.
- Limited production tires are excluded from all UTQGS requirements. In order to qualify as limited production tires, a tire must meet all the following criteria (575.104(c)(2)):
- Total annual domestic production or importation into the United States of tires of the same design and size by either the manufacturer or brand name owner may not exceed 15,000 tires;
- The tire's size must not have been listed as a vehicle manufacturer's recommended tire size designation for new motor vehicles domestically produced or imported in quantities greater than 10,000 during the year prior to the tire's manufacture; and
- The total annual domestic production or importation by the tire's manufacturer or brand name owner may not exceed 35,000 tires.
Since Michelin is a major domestic producer and importer of tires, it is unlikely that the tires in question could qualify as limited production tires (exception b). If they qualify as tires of a new tire line, however, you are free to prepare and attach tread labels to the tires in accordance with (d)(1)(i)(B)(2) and market them as described in exception a. If they do not meet either exception a or b, you may not market the tires in the United States until they comply with the UTQGS. Finally, if you are unable to bring these tires into compliance with the UTQGS, you are free to export them if the tires and the outside of their container are labeled for export (49 U.S. Code 30112(b)(3)) (copy enclosed).
One further matter. The tires must meet the strength, performance, and labeling requirements of Federal motor vehicle safety standard No. 109, New pneumatic tires (copy enclosed), and the letters "DOT" must be marked on the tire sidewalls to indicate such compliance. Like the UTQGS, those requirements are also prerequisite to the sale of any passenger car tires in the United States.
I hope this information is helpful to you. Should you have any further questions or require additional information, feel free to contact Mr. Myers at this address or at (202) 366-2992.
Acting Chief Counsel