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NHTSA sets final rule for fuel efficiency testing

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NHTSA sets final rule for fuel efficiency testing

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its final rule that establishes test procedures for consumer tire rolling resistance, safety and durability.

There are many details that still need to be worked out, however.

"When this program is fully established, this information will be provided to consumers at the point of sale and online," say agency officials.

The rule, as well as its associated tire consumer education program, will require tiremakers to rank their products for fuel efficiency, safety and durability "based on test procedures specified," say NHTSA officials.

"Comparing these three different ratings for different replacement tires will enable consumers to see how different replacement tires can affect the fuel economy they are getting from their vehicles. This will enable consumers to see the tradeoffs they may be facing between fuel efficiency, safety (i.e. wet traction) and durability (i.e. treadwear life), and how the balance of these factors may differ from tire to tire. Providing information regarding all three types of performance will help to ensure that no single aspect is given disproportionate attention."

In developing the rule, the agency conducted tire testing research "to determine which test procedure would best standardize a fuel efficiency rating and provide accurate discrimination among replacement tires.

"The agency is specifying a test procedure by which NHTSA will evaluate the accuracy of the rolling resistance rating assigned by the tire manufacturer. For the safety and durability ratings, this final rule specifies that the agency will use previously established test procedures for wet traction and treadwear to evaluate the accuracy of the safety and durability ratings assigned by the tire manufacturer."

NHTSA says it is not specifying the content or requirements of the consumer education portion of the program at this time.

"We are continuing to work to improve the content and format of the consumer information so that consumers will, in fact, be adequately informed. NHTSA will be conducting additional consumer testing to explore how consumers will best comprehend information in each of the three categories discussed above."

After additional testing, NHTSA plans to publish a new proposal for the consumer education element of the program.

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