November 19, 2002

U.S. safety agency announces new tire labelling regulations

Washington, D.C. – A new regulation to help consumers maintain vehicle tires more safely was announced today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The rule requires that manufacturers provide additional consumer information and more accessible tire labelling. The new regulation, to be phased in beginning in September 2003, also will allow consumers to more easily identify tires affected by a safety recall.

“This is a terrific remedy for the often-confusing information now labelled on tires,” said Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D., NHTSA Administrator. “In the end, well-maintained tires are going to provide consumers with a greater margin of safety.”

To develop its new tire labelling and information rule, NHTSA undertook extensive consumer research, including the use of focus group sessions conducted throughout the U.S. That research revealed that many consumers are unaware of the safe use of tires on their vehicles and would value clearer and more extensive information.

Key provisions of the new rule include the following:

  • The Tire Identification Number (TIN), which includes information to help identify tires subject to recalls, must be shown on both sides of a tire. (On one side, the TIN can exclude the tire’s date of manufacture.)

  • All characters in the TIN must be at least one-quarter inch high, to increase readability.
  • In nearly all passenger vehicles, the placard that provides information on proper tire inflation and load limits for a vehicle, must be mounted in a standard place: on the post next to the driver’s side (known as the “B-pillar”).
  • The vehicle placard must be printed in a defined format involving coloured lettering. This includes the requirement that tire inflation pressure information be printed in red, yellow and black on a white background.
  • The placard must include information on the maximum weight that a vehicle can carry safely (taking into account the weight of both cargo and occupants).
  • Vehicle manufacturers must provide more tire safety information in the owner’s manual.

The new rule came in response to a mandate in the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act of 2000. Covered by the new regulation are the manufacturers of all new passenger vehicles that weigh 10,000 pounds or less – including cars, sport utility vehicles, vans, pickup trucks, small buses and small trailers. Also covered are companies that produce new or retread tires for any such vehicles manufactured after 1975.

The improved tire-related labelling will be required for vehicles manufactured after Sept. 1, 2003. For tires, NHTSA is phasing in compliance requirements for those tires covered under the new rule as follows:

  • 40 percent between Sept. 1, 2004 and Aug. 31, 2005

  • 70 percent between Sept. 1, 2005 and Aug. 31, 2006
  • 100 percent by Sept. 1, 2006

A NHTSA research study released in August 2001 found that 27 percent of passenger cars on U.S. roadways are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tires. Moreover, 32 percent of light trucks (including sport utility vehicles, vans and pickup trucks) are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tires.

The new NHTSA rule can be found on the agency’s web site at:

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