NHTSA Says Improperly Labeled Chinese Truck Tires Have Safety Consequences

NHTSA Rules Against FTS 011007

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Dan Zielinski
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WASHINGTON, D.C.January 10, 2007 – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today ruled that mislabeled Chinese truck tires pose a safety issue and cannot be sold for use in the U.S.

In September, the Rubber Manufacturers Association urged NHTSA to deny a petition for inconsequential non-compliance requested by Foreign Tire Sales, Inc., (FTS) an importer of Chinese tires. The tires at issue were nearly 19,000 truck tires imported to the U.S. in 2005 and 2006. The tires failed to comply with labeling regulations requiring the sidewall to display a maximum load rating and inflation values for single tire use.

“While petitioner may not intend its non-compliant tires to be used anywhere other than a container chassis, there is no guarantee that the tires may not eventually be placed in a single load application,” wrote Laurie Baulig, RMA senior vice president and general counsel, in comments to NHTSA last September.

NHTSA agreed with RMA that while the intended use of the tires may not present a safety concern, there was no guarantee that the tires may not be placed in a single load application since they are capable of being mounted and used in that manner.

In August, FTS submitted additional information to NHTSA in an attempt to demonstrate that the tires were safe. But the agency was not moved by the information.

“…these reports do not demonstrate that the tires meet the performance standard of FMVSS 119. Moreover, the issue here is not whether the tires meet those performance requirements. Rather, the question is whether the incorrect marking of the tires may itself have safety consequences,” NHTSA wrote in its denial of the FTS petition.

“Federal safety regulations are designed to protect the motoring public,” said Baulig. “RMA members invest a great deal of resources to ensure that their products comply with all rules and our members expect all tire makers who sell product in the U.S. to do the same.”

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 100 companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.