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Tire Manufacturers Want to Change Labeling

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Major tire makers have proposed eliminating maximum inflation figures from tire sidewalls,
in a recommendation they made to safety regulators drafting new rules. The Rubber
Manufacturers Association submitted comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA), which said consumers should rely on vehicle manufacturers to
provide appropriate tire-inflation data. The association, which represents more than 100
corporations, including the largest tire makers, said the posted figure for maximum
pressure can be misleading. It is higher than the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended normal
pressure, which is not posted on the tire, and can vary, depending on the type of vehicle,
plus speed and weight factors. Experts say maximum inflation can, among other things,
increase tire strain and wear, and impact vehicle handling. Some tires can explode in some
circumstances if a tire is dangerously overinflated. The association wants automakers to
post tire pressure information on the same place in every vehicle. Currently, that
information can be found on a placard in the glove box, on the doorpost or sometimes on the
gas-tank door. It can also be found in owner’s manuals, a practice the association said
should continue. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, however, said requiring that
information at a single location inside the vehicle was not practical. Gloria Bergquist, a
spokeswoman for the group that represents most major auto companies, said regulatory
flexibility should continue. While consumer groups agreed with the tire makers that maximum
pressure data can be confusing, they said it would be a mistake to eliminate that
information from the federal government’s tire-labeling requirements. New tire-labeling
regulations are expected by June 2002.

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