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CU Praises New Tire Safety Standards

August 7, 2003
Sally Greenberg (202) 462-6262

New Passenger Vehicle Tire Standards Will Make The Roads Safer

On June 23, 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued long awaited improvements to standards for passenger vehicle tires – the old standard had not been updated in any significant way since 1967. Congress mandated that NHTSA update the tire standards as part of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act (TREAD), which passed in 2000 in the aftermath of the Ford Explorer/Firestone tire tread separation tragedies.
Consumers Union supported adoption of the new standards, including NHTSA’s push for rigorous testing that would improve the quality of tires on the market. CU believes the new tire standards, which all tires intended for vehicles less than 10,000 pounds will be required to meet, more closely reflect the variety of conditions tires experience today. The new standard will also require some pickups, vans and most SUVs to meet the more stringent test requirements of passenger vehicle tires.
Some highlights of the new rule include:
 The “high speed” and “endurance” tests have been updated to make them more rigorous. Both tests will now be required to be run at higher speeds, and in the case of the high speed test it will be required for the first time on tires intended for SUVs and light trucks.
 A ”low inflation pressure” test has been added to the standard, assessing how well a tire can run at low inflation pressure as well as at its maximum rated load. This test simulates low tire inflation and vehicle overload conditions that are too often present on the road today.
Tire manufacturers have until June 1, 2007, for all applicable tires to comply.
For more information about CU’s work on tire safety standards, please see the following documents:
Comments of Consumers Union to NHTSA on tire safety standards
Comments of R. David Pittle to the 18th Annual Tire Industry Conference
November 2002 Memo to Members in Consumer Reports
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, is an independent, nonprofit testing and information organization serving only consumers. CU is comprehensive source for unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health and nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, CU’s mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers. CU’s income is derived solely from the sale of Consumer Reports and its other services, and from noncommercial contributions, grants, and fees. CU is online at www.consumersunion.org.