WASHINGTON—Tire manufacturers still are studying some changes to the final federal rule on tire safety information labeling, but are pleased with the decision to allow tire load index and speed rating symbol information on vehicle labels and placards.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the new final rule on tire safety information requirements March 22. It released the first version of the document in November 2002, then issued amendments to the previous rule in June 2004 in response to petitions from parties in the auto and tire industries. The latest changes, with an effective date of Sept. 1 of this year, are in response to further petitions NHTSA received after the June 2004 document was issued, the agency said.
Included in the new standard is a technical amendment that allows vehicle manufacturers to include light truck tire load range identification on labels and placards, and also tire service description information. According to a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the reference to tire service description information means that the load index and speed symbol may be included.
The load index and speed symbol rule change is for passenger cars and light trucks, the RMA spokesman said.
In the June 2004 amendments, NHTSA had forbidden either to be included on the placard or label, the spokesman said. "Their reasoning was that the speed symbol means the tires have been certified at speeds far exceeding the highest U.S. speed limit," he said. "Since the new tire speed tests certify tires at 99 mph, they felt the speed symbols were not necessary for safety."
The RMA and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers petitioned the agency to allow inclusion of the load index and speed symbol. The load index, they argued, is necessary to alert consumers as to their tires´ load carrying capacity, while the speed symbol helps assure consumers of compatibility between the maximum speed capability of the vehicle and its tires.
NHTSA granted their request, on the grounds the information wouldn´t take up much space on the label and that it could be helpful to consumers buying replacement tires.
Becky MacDicken, government affairs director for the Tire Industry Association, seconded the RMA´s approval of the rule change. "This will make the job easier for our dealers to sell replacement tires to the public," she said.