WASHINGTON—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a final rule making good on its proposals to make fundamental changes to the formats of tire identification numbers.
The notice, published April 13 in the Federal Register, goes into effect immediately.
To expand the rapidly dwindling number of unused tire manufacturer plant codes in TINs, NHTSA has changed those codes from two symbols to three. Plant codes are necessary in TINs to identify where a tire was manufactured.
Also, NHTSA has standardized the length of TINs to 13 symbols for new tires and seven for retreads. This was done, the agency said, to eliminate confusion from the previous variable lengths of TINs.
NHTSA proposed the changes to TINs on July 24, 2014, and 13 interested parties commented on the proposal, including the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Japanese Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association and the safety advocacy group Safety Research & Strategies Inc.
The final rule extends the lead-time for phasing in the new codes from five years to 10, as suggested by the RMA and the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada. NHTSA agreed with the RMA and TRAC that ease the impact of the final rule on existing plants.
Also, the final rule eliminates the requirement for a 50-millimeter blank space following the date code. The RMA, TRAC, JATMA and several other commenters objected to this provision because it would be confusing and expensive. Also, the RMA and TRAC said Canadian tire manufacturers needed this space for Canada's National Safety Mark.
“(The RMA and TRAC) argued that this proposed requirement represented a barrier to trade that was not justified by safety,” the agency said in the final rule.
NHTSA rejected the comments from SRS and the NTSB that the agency should require a non-coded date of manufacture for TINs.
“Given that we did not propose any changes to the date code portion of the TIN, nor did we discuss or request comment on any potential changes to the date code, such a change may be beyond the scope of this rulemaking,” the agency said.
“Even if it were in scope, however, we do not believe a change to the date code is necessary for consumers to determine when their tires were manufactured,” it said.
Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president of public affairs, said his association is happy with a number of aspects of the final rule.
“Overall, NHTSA responded very positively to our recommendations,” Zielinski said. “This final rule came out pretty close to what we requested.”