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For quality control, NHTSA picks Smithers

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Smithers Rapra, part of the Smithers Group, has been selected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as the national tire alignment laboratory for the Tire Fuel Efficiency Consumer Information Program (TFECIP).

Congress in 2007 required NHTSA to establish TFECIP to educate consumers about the effect of tires on automobile fuel efficiency, safety, and durability. A required element of the program is a rating system for replacement tires.

For fuel efficiency, TFECIP rates each tire’s rolling resistance, or the force required to make the tire roll.

In March 2010, NHTSA issued a final rule specifying International Organization for Standardization (ISO) specification 28580 as the test procedure used in rating tires for TFECIP. ISO 28580 requires the establishment of a reference laboratory and a reference test machine for quality control.

Smithers’ lab and its rolling resistance machine will be used to “align” data from different testing labs and equipment that is submitted to NHTSA for TFECIP ratings to Smithers’ data, using batches of pre-defined tires.

“The tire industry and government have been working diligently to improve tire performance," says Dr. Rikki Lamba, vice president of Smithers Rapra North America Operations. "We are pleased that we can play a role in supporting our key customers in the development of greener tires.”

Smithers’ contract with NHTSA is for two years, with optional one-year extensions for three additional years. Smithers is required to make monthly reports to the government.

NHTSA is developing the TFECIP rating system and a consumer education campaign; the process requires final approval within the agency before ratings will be available for replacement tires.

For more information on Smithers Rapra, visit

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