[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 106 (Friday, June 1, 2001)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 29747-29761]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-13800]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

49 CFR Part 571

[DOT Docket No. NHTSA-01-9765]
RIN 2127-AE59


Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Radiator and Coolant 
Reservoir Caps, Venting of Motor Vehicle Coolant Systems

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

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SUMMARY: In this document, we (NHTSA) propose a new Federal motor 
vehicle safety standard regulating new radiator caps and coolant 
reservoir caps, and new passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles 
and light trucks with such caps. We believe that this new standard, if 
implemented, would result in fewer scald injuries that occur when 
people attempt to remove caps from motor vehicle radiators or coolant 
reservoirs that are under high pressure and contain hot fluids. 
However, this rulemaking would not require that radiator caps or 
coolant reservoir caps be provided on any motor vehicle.

DATES: You should submit your comments early enough to ensure that 
Docket Management receives them not later than July 31, 2001.

ADDRESSES: You should mention the docket number of this document in 
your comments and submit your comments in writing to: Docket 
Management, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590.
    You may call the Docket at 202-366-9324. You may visit the Docket 
from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
    For non-legal issues, you may call Mr. Kenneth O. Hardie, Office of 
Crash

[[Page 29748]]

Avoidance Standards at (202) 366-6987. His FAX number is (202) 493-
2739.
    For legal issues, you may call Ms. Dorothy Nakama, Office of the 
Chief Counsel at (202) 366-2992. Her FAX number is (202) 366-3820.
    You may send mail to both of these officials at National Highway 
Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, DC 
20590.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background--What Safety Need Does This Proposed Rule Address?
II. Has NHTSA Previously Addressed the Issue of Regulating Radiator 
Caps?
III. Why is NHTSA Proposing Rulemaking Now?
    A. The Petition from Mr. John Giordano
    B. Mr. Giordano's Radiator Cap Scald Incidence Data
    C. NHTSA's Analysis of Injury Data from Mr. Giordano
IV. June 1993 Request for Comment and Public Comments in Response
V. July 1993 Agreement with Consumer Product Safety Commission for 
More Research
    A. Using CPSC Data to Determine a Need for Safety
    B. Results of the CPSC Data Collection Effort
VI. 1998 Hospitalization Data from Two Regional Burn Centers
VII. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
    A. CPSC and Other Data Show a Safety Need to Regulate Caps
    B. Major Provisions of the Proposed Standard
    1. The New Standard Would Apply to New Vehicles 4,536 Kg (10,000 
Pounds) GVWR or Less
    2. The New Standard Would Apply to Original Caps and Replacement 
Caps
    3. Performance Requirements for Caps
    4. Manually Operated Pressure Release Mechanism on the Vehicle
    5. Manually Operated Pressure Release Mechanism on the Cap
    C. Why We Propose Applying the Rule to Vehicles 4,536 Kg (10,000 
Pounds GVWR) or Under Only
    D. Why We Propose a Standard Based on Pressure, Not Temperature
    E. Performance Requirements for Radiator Caps and Coolant 
Reservoir Caps
    F. Compatibility Issues for New Caps/Old Vehicles and New 
Vehicles/Old Caps
    G. Testing Procedures for the New Caps
    H. Testing Procedures for the New Vehicles
    I. ``DOT'' Symbol and Manufacturers'' Maximum Pressure Rating 
for Each Radiator Cap and Coolant Reservoir Cap
    J. Why We are Not Proposing Warning Labels
    K. Additional Issues
VIII. Leadtime
IX. Rulemaking Analyses and Notices
    A. Executive Order 12866; DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures
    B. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)
    C. Executive Order 13045 (Economically Significant Rules 
Affecting Children)
    D. Executive Order 12778 (Civil Justice Reform)
    E. Regulatory Flexibility Act
    F. National Environmental Policy Act
    G. Paperwork Reduction Act
    H. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act
    I. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
    J. Plain Language
    K. Regulation Identifier Number (RIN)

Proposed Regulatory Text

I. Background--What Safety Need Does This Proposed Rule Address?

    Until the late 1950's, the liquid-based cooling systems on 
passenger car engines did not operate under pressure. The low 
horsepower, low compression engines of these earlier cars did not 
develop the tremendous amount of heat of present day engines and the 
coolant generally stayed below the boiling point. If those older 
systems were kept clean and in good mechanical condition, they had an 
excess of cooling capacity. Under those conditions, cooling system 
troubles were rarely experienced.
    As the result of the advent of engines with increased horsepower, 
smaller radiators, higher thermostat opening temperatures, and 
emissions controls, much more heat can accumulate in the engines of 
cars and the other types of light vehicles common today. These vehicles 
include trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles with a Gross Vehicle 
Weight Rating (GVWR) of 4536 kg (10,000 pounds) or less. At the same 
time, today's engines have less engine surface to dissipate the heat 
into the atmosphere. To eliminate the heat build-up problem, the 
pressurized cooling system was developed. The radiator caps in these 
pressurized systems function to provide an opening so that liquid 
cooling fluid can be added to the cooling systems as needed and to 
maintain the design pressure in the systems.
    During operation, a motor vehicle engine becomes very hot. Motor 
vehicle engine cooling fluid (also known as coolant) can reach 
temperatures as high as 118 to 129 degrees Celsius (245 to 265 degrees 
Fahrenheit) and pressure levels as high as 110 to 117 kilopascals (kPa) 
(16-17 pounds of pressure per square inch). Under such high temperature 
and pressure conditions, a person's removal of a standard radiator cap 
will allow hot fluid and steam to rush out of the neck of the radiator. 
When the system is under pressure, especially high pressure, removing a 
radiator cap can cause it to ``explode;'' i.e., the cap can be forcibly 
ejected or dislodged from the neck of the radiator in some way. A 
person close to the radiator may be sprayed with the hot fluid or steam 
that is ejected, and be scalded, possibly severely. We know that such 
incidents are not uncommon. Over the years, we have received letters 
from the public and from medical personnel at hospital burn-care 
facilities reporting of such incidents, encouraging us to establish a 
safety standard for radiator caps. Also, we have collected data 
documenting these events.
    In order to prevent scald injuries\1\ to persons resulting from 
opening radiator caps of engine systems that are hot and under 
pressure, NHTSA proposes to regulate radiator and coolant reservoir 
caps (if provided) on certain new vehicles, and to regulate new 
radiator and coolant reservoir caps themselves.
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    \1\ Scalds result from contact with hot liquids and vapors. 
Burns are caused by contact with hot dry objects. The effects of 
scalds and burns are similar. In first-degree burns, the damage is 
limited to the outer layer of the skin, resulting in redness, 
warmth, an occasional blister, and tenderness. Mild sunburn is an 
example of a first-degree burn. In second-degree burns, the injury 
goes through the outer layer and involves the deeper layers of skin, 
causing blisters. In third-degree burns, the full thickness of skin 
is destroyed and a charred layer of seared tissue is exposed. The 
seriousness of a burn depends on the amount of skin burned, the 
location of the burn, and the depth of the burn.
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II. Has NHTSA Previously Addressed the Issue of Regulating Radiator 
Caps?

    Today's rulemaking is not the first time we have sought comment on 
a safety standard for radiator caps. On October 14, 1967 (32 FR 14282), 
we issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, setting forth 
requirements we were considering proposing for radiator caps on 
passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks and buses. One 
provision would have required a means for relieving radiator pressure, 
such as an intermediate step that must be taken before the cap could be 
disengaged from the radiator filler neck. We also considered 
requirements that would have prevented any replacement pressure cap 
from having a pressure relief rating higher than the relief rating of 
the cap initially supplied by the vehicle manufacturer, and would have 
required distinct and durable markings identifying the pressure rating 
of the cap. Commenters on the October 1967 notice stated that vehicle 
manufacturers worldwide had already designed their coolant reservoir 
systems so that an intermediate step must be taken before the cap can 
be disengaged.
    Based on those comments, we concluded that the problems that could 
result from removing a radiator cap from a coolant reservoir system 
under pressure were being solved by the automotive industry. Among the 
steps being taken were the placement of a warning on the caps, 
designing the two-

[[Page 29749]]

step operation into caps so that pressure is released prior to cap 
removal, and using other coolant system designs that minimized the 
likelihood of escaping steam and/or fluid coming in contact with a 
person. Accordingly, on January 25, 1972 (37 FR 1120), we suspended 
rulemaking, stating ``After consideration of the available information, 
it has been determined that sufficient justification for regulations of 
the nature proposed has not been shown at this time.''
    Regarding its decision in January 1972 to suspend rulemaking, the 
agency commented in a Federal Register notice of June 10, 1993 (58 FR 
32504) that:

    That decision was not further explained, but commenters to the 
ANPRM had stated that the intermediate step before the radiator cap 
was disengaged had already been designed into the cooling systems of 
virtually all vehicle manufacturers throughout the world. Thus, 
NHTSA may have been persuaded that any problems caused by removing 
radiator caps from overheated radiators had been solved by the 
automotive industry, therefore rulemaking on that issue was not 
necessary. (See 58 FR at 32506.)

III. Why Is NHTSA Proposing Rulemaking Now?

A. The Petition From Mr. John Giordano

    In April 1992, we received a petition submitted by Mr. John 
Giordano, suggesting the establishment of a new safety standard that 
would result in the use of thermal locking safety radiator caps. Mr. 
Giordano brought to our attention the RadLock thermal locking radiator 
cap. The new safety standard that he suggested would prevent the 
accidental scalding of persons who hastily open the cap of a hot motor 
vehicle radiator. Mr. Giordano recommended that the standard state the 
following:

    Any new vehicle sold in the U.S. with a water-cooled engine 
shall be equipped with a radiator cap which can automatically lock 
when the coolant is at a temperature of 125 degrees F. or greater, 
thereby preventing it from being turned open. The cap shall unlock 
when the temperature of the coolant falls below 125 degrees F. to 
allow safe opening.
    In support of his petition, Mr. Giordano asserted the 
following--

    (1) Despite safety education and warning labels, radiator cap scald 
incidents are increasing, and will continue to increase as vehicle use 
rises.
    (2) Every year, over 100,000 radiator cap scald incidents occur in 
the U.S., resulting in over 20,000 victims requiring treatment at 
hospital emergency rooms and burn care facilities.
    (3) Issuing a radiator cap safety regulation would result in a 
significant economic benefit to society by:
    (a) reducing medical costs in the amount of $1,000,000,000 annually 
to potential burn victims and to the general population if potential 
burn victims cannot afford to pay such costs;
    (b) reducing costs to domestic industry by $84,000,000 annually due 
to lost time from employee burn victims seeking medical after care;
    (c) reducing automakers' product liability insurance premiums by 
over $2,000,000 annually to settle radiator cap injury claims, thereby 
reducing costs to the consumer for the purchase of new vehicles; and
    (d) reducing product liability of manufacturers of antifreeze, 
radiators, radiator caps and associated products.
    Mr. Giordano stated that the new rule would be appropriate for any 
motor vehicle that uses a water-cooled engine and would be compatible 
with heat storage battery technology. Mr. Giordano also estimated that 
a new rule would not have an adverse economic impact on motor vehicle 
manufacturers, since it would cost less than 15 cents per vehicle for 
manufacturers to comply if his suggested rule were adopted.

B. Mr. Giordano's Radiator Cap Scald Incidence Data

    In support of his assertion that there are over 100,000 scald 
incidents resulting from radiator cap removals each year in the United 
States and that these incidents are increasing, Mr. Giordano submitted 
four medical journal articles, and a letter from the Burn Special 
Projects Coordinator at the Washington Hospital Center Burn Center in 
Washington, DC. (The four articles and the letter may be reviewed in 
the DOT Docket cited in the heading of this notice of proposed 
rulemaking).
    The most relevant and informative article was authored by Dr. C. G. 
Ward and Dr. J.S. Hammond of the University of Miami School of Medicine 
(Ward-Hammond article). The article stated that, during a three-year 
period from January 1979 through December 1981, a total of 86 patients 
(an average of 29 a year) with radiator-associated injuries required 
hospital admission to the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Burn 
Center.\2\ The article stated that twice that number of patients (an 
average of 58 per year) were treated, but not hospitalized, during that 
three-year period for radiator-associated injuries.
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    \2\ NHTSA believes that cap and filler neck designs are 
relatively unchanged from the time in which this and the other 
medical journal articles were written and injury data were 
collected. For this reason, we believe the data and conclusions in 
the articles are still relevant today.
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    The Ward-Hammond article stated that of 146 treated injuries caused 
by radiators, 111 (76 percent) of the automobiles involved were 
manufactured by General Motors. Other automobiles associated with the 
radiator injuries were manufactured by Ford (15 percent), Chrysler (5 
percent), and American Motors (3 percent). Radiator burns from imported 
and other automobiles resulted in one percent of the injuries. The 
Ward-Hammond article stated that, among the General Motors cars 
involved, the coolant system design included an overflow/reservoir into 
which liquid can be added. The article noted that on General Motors 
cars, there was also a cap on top of the radiator, and the injured 
person did not seem to recognize the overflow reservoir as the proper 
place to fill the system. Injury was often incurred when the person 
opened the wrong cap and was sprayed with super-heated liquid. The 
article further stated that, of the General Motors cars, the models 
most often involved were made between 1970 and 1975. The article did 
not suggest any design reasons for why GM cars were seemingly 
overrepresented, stating: ``It is not known if General Motors 
automobiles are more often involved because of the design of the 
cooling system caps, or if their cars are more prone to overheating 
during normal performance.'' The article stated that the percentage of 
General Motors cars among the total automobile population ``is not 
known'' and did not hypothesize why MY 1970-75 cars were most often 
involved in radiator-associated injuries involving General Motors cars.
    Mr. Giordano also provided a May 20, 1992 letter from Mr. Mark S. 
Lewis, MS, RRT, Burn Special Projects Coordinator at the Washington 
Hospital Center Burn Center, in Washington, D.C. Mr. Lewis provided 
information on both the Washington D.C. Center and a center in 
Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Lewis provided the following estimates:
    2.5 million burn accidents occur each year in the United States.
    70,000 burn-related injuries annually will require hospitalization.
    21,000 burn-related injuries (30 percent of the 70,000) will 
require care that can be provided only by a burn center.
    In 1987, scalds were 14 percent of all burn admissions to the 
Washington Burn Center, and 20 percent of all burn admissions to the 
Baltimore Center.
    In 1988, scalds were 16 percent of all burn admissions to the 
Washington Burn Center, and 25 percent of all burn admissions to the 
Baltimore Center.
    In 1989, scalds were 19 percent of all burn admissions to the 
Washington Burn Center; the percentage for the Baltimore Center was 
unknown.

[[Page 29750]]

    In 1990, scalds were 18 percent of all burn admissions to the 
Washington Burn Center; the percentage for the Baltimore Center was 
unknown.
    Approximately 10 percent of scald injuries in the District of 
Columbia can be attributed to removing automotive radiator caps.
    Mr. Lewis did not indicate whether the scald and burn-related 
injuries, including those that would require care that can only be 
treated at a burn center, were second or third degree burns. He noted 
that the scald rates stated above are derived from actual numbers, 
representing the percentage of burn patient admissions and that the 
scald rate would be different if outpatient burns were tabulated. Mr. 
Lewis further noted that the Washington Hospital Center Burn Center 
receives a number of outpatients who were burned by hot liquid or steam 
from an exploding radiator cap, and that if these patients were added 
to the total scald numbers, the inclusion of these additional victims 
would probably raise the percentage of scalds attributable to radiator 
caps by a few percentage points.
    Mr. Giordano also provided an April 13, 1992 letter from Mr. Peter 
A. Brigham, President of the Burn Foundation in Philadelphia, PA. 
Writing in support of standards for safety locking radiator caps, Mr. 
Brigham noted that the Burn Foundation maintains an injury cause 
registry. Five (unspecified) burn centers participate in this registry. 
Mr. Brigham noted that between one and a half and two percent of the 
patients admitted to a center that participates in the Burn 
Foundation's registry were injured when the ``cap is prematurely opened 
on a hot radiator.'' For patients injured by a cap prematurely opened 
on a hot radiator, Mr. Brigham stated that the ``average cost of 
hospital treatment for the original admission of these patients is over 
$30,000'' (in 1992 dollars). Mr. Brigham went on to state:

    If these figures are a reasonable representation of the national 
experience, there are close to 400 burn center admissions each year 
resulting from car radiator scalds, with total acute care costs 
exceeding $10 million. This figure of course does not include the 
costs of outpatient care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and long-
term disfigurement suffered by these patients. Since burn centers 
admit only one-third of all severe burn patients, and several burns 
are treated in outpatient settings for every burn patient admitted, 
we project that thousands more patients with similar injuries are 
admitted to general hospitals or discharged from hospital emergency 
departments after suffering less severe injuries involving the same 
scenario.

    Mr. Giordano also stated his belief that the adoption of a new 
safety standard resulting in the use of thermal locking safety radiator 
caps would reduce medical costs by one billion dollars annually, but 
provided no information in support of this belief. The Ward-Hammond 
article, however, stated that the average length of hospitalization for 
burn injuries was ten days. Mr. Giordano also provided no cost data to 
support his claim that the establishment of a new standard would reduce 
by $84 million the costs to domestic industry annually due to lost time 
from employee burn victims seeking medical care. Although the Ward-
Hammond article stated that a work loss of two to four weeks was 
typical for their study group, the article did not convert this loss 
into dollar figures. Mr. Giordano also provided no data to support his 
claim that automakers' product liability insurance premiums would be 
reduced by $2 million annually to settle radiator cap injury claims.

C. NHTSA's Analysis of Injury Data From Mr. Giordano

    After carefully reviewing the submitted information, we concluded 
that Mr. Giordano's data did not support his contentions that over 
100,000 radiator cap-related scald injuries occur annually in the 
United States, and that radiator cap-related scald injuries were 
increasing. We also saw no information that supported Mr. Giordano's 
claims of significant economic benefits to society of more than a 
billion dollars in reduced medical costs.
    We were concerned, however, that we could find no data that would 
either support or refute the allegation that each year 20,000 victims 
required treatment in hospital emergency rooms and burn care facilities 
and that radiator cap-related scald injuries were increasing. Our 
review of highway safety literature, including the National Safety 
Council's ``Accident Fact'' publication, did not provide useful 
information on the total annual number of radiator cap-related scald 
incidents. We could not obtain useful data from automotive product-
related injury incidents tracked by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety 
Commission (CPSC) in the 1970's and 1980's.
    In order to more fully examine the issues raised in his petition, 
we issued a letter on March 23, 1993, granting Mr. Giordano's petition 
for rulemaking.

IV. June 1993 Request for Comment and Public Comments in Response

    In order to obtain information to assess the validity of the 
assertions in Mr. Giordano's petition, we published a ``Request for 
Comments'' document in the Federal Register, requesting comment on the 
feasibility of and necessity for rulemaking to prevent scald injuries 
by requiring thermal locking radiator caps or other devices on motor 
vehicles with water-cooled engines. (June 10, 1993; 58 FR 32504.) In 
the notice, NHTSA asked for data that would assist the agency in 
determining the validity of Mr. Giordano's claims. NHTSA specifically 
asked the public for comment on the following seven issues:
    1. Is accidental scalding from sudden removal of the radiator cap 
from an overheated motor vehicle engine a significant national safety 
problem?
    2. What information is available regarding the number and 
seriousness of accidental scaldings from overheated radiators?
    3. Would thermal locking radiator caps that automatically lock when 
the coolant temperature reaches 125 degrees Fahrenheit and unlock when 
the coolant temperature falls below 125 degrees Fahrenheit 
significantly reduce the number of accidental scaldings that result 
from removing the radiator caps from overheated engines?
    4. If 125 degrees Fahrenheit is either too high or too low as the 
proper temperature to lock/unlock the radiator cap, what would be the 
proper temperature?
    5. Are there other technologies currently available or under 
development that would be helpful in reducing accidental radiator 
scaldings?
    6. If NHTSA proposed a new FMVSS requiring thermal locking safety 
radiator caps or similar devices:
    a. Should such devices be required on all vehicles with water-
cooled engines or just certain ones?
    b. Should such devices be required on all new motor vehicles?
    c. Would redesign of currently-designed cooling systems be 
necessary?
    d. What notices or warnings could or should be posted on new 
radiator caps cautioning people not to try to remove the cap when the 
engine is hot?
    7. What actions, or products, such as two-step caps, overflow 
reservoirs, pressure relief valves, etc. are currently utilized by 
manufacturers to prevent radiator cap scald incidents? Are some 
products or designs more effective than others in that regard?
    We received 18 comments in response. Ten of the comments were from 
automobile manufacturers and one of their trade associations. Five of 
the comments were from truck manufacturers and their trade association 
or the trucking industry. Two comments were from radiator cap

[[Page 29751]]

inventors or manufacturers. Finally, one comment was from a mechanical 
engineering firm.
    The public comments did not provide information that established a 
safety need to commence a rulemaking to establish a safety standard for 
thermal locking radiator caps or other devices on motor vehicles with 
water-cooled engines to prevent scald injuries, nor did they show that 
there was not any safety problem.
    In their comments, most of the automobile manufacturers did not 
support a radiator cap standard. Jaguar Cars Ltd. proposed as a 
possible solution, a radiator locking cap that would ``allow the 
release of pressure and coolant at a specified maximum rate to a safe 
position under the vehicle until the system reaches a safe state.'' 
Ford Motor Company commented that the relevant consideration is the 
coolant system pressure, not coolant system temperature, and stated: 
``We firmly believe that controlling the cooling system pressure and 
proper relief of that pressure at cap removal is the key to providing 
our customers with a safe, efficient cooling system.'' The trade 
association then named the American Automobile Manufacturers 
Association (AAMA) (whose comments General Motors Corporation joined in 
drafting) stated that although it did not see an immediate need for 
regulation, it appeared that the venting of cooling system pressure 
prior to complete radiator cap removal is the most effective and 
practical means of reducing accidental spills. The AAMA also estimated 
that the cost of a thermal-locking radiator cap was close to $.50.
    The commenters from truck manufacturers and the trucking industry 
did not see a significant problem of scalds and burns sustained in the 
removal of radiator caps. The American Trucking Associations suggested 
that any NHTSA-collected radiator cap injury data be used to separately 
document injuries attributed to trucks and buses from those resulting 
from passenger cars.
    Two radiator cap manufacturers also commented. One inventor 
suggested that we require his company's radiator cap, which contains a 
heat resistant handle. Stant Manufacturing Inc., a manufacturer of 
radiator caps for vehicle manufacturers and for aftermarket use, also 
commented. Stant stated that after reviewing its customer complaint 
files and product litigation files, it found fewer than five reported 
radiator cap scald incidents per year. Stant discussed its safety 
radiator cap that uses the trademark ``LEV-R-VENT,'' which features a 
lever on the cap, providing a means of releasing system pressure 
through the overflow. Stant concluded by offering its opinion that 
rulemaking on new vehicles will produce no measurable safety effect for 
at least 10 years after implementation, based on typical overheating 
complaint patterns.

V. July 1993 Agreement With Consumer Product Safety Commission for 
More Research

A. Using CPSC Data To Determine a Need for Safety

    In 1993, we changed the status of action on Mr. Giordano's petition 
from the ``rulemaking phase'' to the ``research phase.'' To gather more 
data on the extent of scalds and other injuries resulting from radiator 
cap incidents, we entered into an interagency agreement with the 
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in July 1993 to collect 
radiator cap-related injury data by using the CPSC's National 
Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). NEISS is a CPSC-operated 
national probability survey of hospital emergency departments that 
monitors consumer products involved in injury-producing incidents. 
NEISS enables CPSC to make national estimates of the number, type and 
severity of injuries associated with specific consumer products. NEISS 
is a three-level system for collection of consumer product-related 
injury data from a current sample of 91 of the 6,127 hospitals 
nationwide with at least six beds that provide emergency care 24 hours 
a day. The three levels of NEISS data collection are: surveillance of 
emergency room injuries; follow-up telephone interviews with injured 
persons or witnesses; and more comprehensive, on-site investigations 
with injured persons and/or witnesses. One, two, or three levels of 
data collection are used by the CPSC as primary data collection tools.
    Injury data were collected by CPSC from October 1, 1993 to 
September 30, 1994. The CPSC's data collection effort was completed and 
the resulting data were delivered to the NHTSA's National Center for 
Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) in early 1995.

B. Results of the CPSC Data Collection Effort

    In November 1997, the NCSA published a technical report, DOT HS 808 
598, titled ``Injuries Associated with Specific Motor Vehicle Hazards: 
Radiators, Batteries, Power Windows, and Power Roofs'' (available for 
review in the DOT Docket cited in the heading of this notice of 
proposed rulemaking) that compiled the data from the CPSC's injury data 
collection effort. The technical report includes estimates of the 
number of persons injured as a result of incidents involving motor 
vehicle radiators.
    From October 1, 1993 through September 30, 1994 (the period of the 
study), an estimated 19,638 persons were injured nationwide as a result 
of incidents involving motor vehicle radiators. Of the 19,638 persons, 
about 77 percent (15,118 out of 19,638) were injured as a result of 
activities associated with the radiator cap. Almost 73 percent of the 
radiator cap injuries (11,024 out of 15,118) resulted from removing or 
attempting to remove the cap from the radiator. Twenty five percent of 
the radiator cap injuries (3,794 out of 15,118) were described as 
resulting from the radiator cap ``exploding,'' i.e., the cap being 
ejected or dislodged from the neck of the radiator in some way. These 
situations mainly involved stationary vehicles. However, when the 
vehicle was moving, vehicle movement, coupled with excessive radiator 
pressure, may have contributed to the incidence of radiator cap 
ejection. The remaining 2 percent of the radiator cap injuries (330 out 
of 15,118) occurred while persons were attempting to put the cap on the 
radiator, or because a loose, untightened or badly fitting cap allowed 
the radiator to boil over.
    Regarding the types of vehicles in which the radiator cap injuries 
were incurred, passenger cars represented 91 percent of the cases, 
pickup trucks approximately 7 percent of the cases, and trucks and vans 
comprised the remaining cases. As for the model years of the vehicles 
involved, 65 percent of the motor vehicles were 1980-89 model years, 
with 52 percent of these being model years 1980-84. About 26 percent of 
the incidents involved 1975-79 models, about 8 percent involved models 
older than 1975, and less than 1 percent involved newer vehicles, i.e., 
model years 1990-94. The following table provides information (by 
vehicle model year) on persons injured by motor vehicle radiator caps.

[[Page 29752]]



                                  Radiator Cap-Related Injuries During FY 1994
                               [By Model Year (MY) of the Motor Vehicles Involved]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                MY                    Pre-1975    1975-1979    1980-1984    1985-1989    1990-1994     All MYs
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Radiator Cap Injuries.............        1,228        3,893        5,143        4,728          126       15,118
Percent of Total..................            8           26           34           31            1          100
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The small number of injuries (1 percent) for MY-1990-1994 vehicles 
appears anomalous. We are not certain how to account for the small 
number for MY 1990-1994. One possible explanation is that these newer 
vehicles experienced fewer mechanical failures overall, including fewer 
problems with engine and coolant reservoir overheating and fewer 
malfunctioning radiator caps. Also, not all MY 1994 vehicles were taken 
into account because the CPSC data collection period ended in September 
1994, by which time not all MY 1994 vehicles were sold and on the road. 
We are not aware of any industry-wide coolant system design changes 
introduced around 1990 that would have significantly affected the 
number of radiator-related injuries.
    Scalding from hot radiator fluid or steam released from the 
radiator injured almost 91 percent of those whose injuries involved 
radiator caps. The face, including eyes and nose, was the most severely 
injured body region for nearly 38 percent of the persons whose injuries 
involved radiator caps, followed by the lower arm (26 percent) and 
upper trunk (18 percent). Approximately 88 percent of the persons whose 
injuries involved radiator caps had moderately severe injuries, 
primarily first and/or second degree scalds that did not generally 
require hospitalization. Nearly 10 percent of the injured were so 
seriously injured that they required hospitalization. The remaining 
persons, about 3 percent, received minor injuries.

VI. 1998 Hospitalization Data From Two Regional Burn Centers

    In 1998, NHTSA received updated data from the Johns Hopkins 
University Baltimore Regional Burn Center (Johns Hopkins) and the 
University of California San Diego Regional Burn Center (UCSD), 
reporting about persons scalded badly enough from interactions with 
motor vehicle radiator caps to require hospitalization. (Full details 
of the Johns Hopkins and UCSD data may be reviewed in NHTSA's 
Regulatory Analysis of ``FMVSS No. 107 Radiator and Reservoir Pressure 
Caps Motor Vehicle Coolant System Venting'', available in the DOT 
Docket cited in the heading of this notice.)
    Johns Hopkins provided us with data about a total of 48 patients 
who were admitted with scald burns from radiator caps during the period 
July 1, 1987 to June 30, 1998, and who required an in-patient stay at 
its institution. The data included the following information about its 
patients: admission by year and month; age; gender; total body surface 
area (TBSA) burned, as a percentage of the entire body; severity of 
burn (i.e., first, second, or third degree); hospital length of stay 
(in days); total number of surgical procedures for skin grafting; total 
hospital room charges. There were roughly the same number of admissions 
per year (five to six) for the years 1988 through 1995. From 1996 
through 1998, two or three patients per year were admitted. There were 
40 male patients and 8 female patients ranging in age from less than 
one year old to 86 years. (The less than one year old infant was held 
by a person opening a radiator cap that ejected hot fluids. The 86 year 
old was a female.) Nearly half of the patients were between 16 and 35 
years of age.
    The UCSD provided us with data on 8 patients admitted with scald 
burn injuries from radiator incidents for the period January 1996 to 
August 1997. There were five males and three females, ranging in age 
from 29 to 56 years of age. The patients were hospitalized, on average, 
for 6 days.
    We used the Johns Hopkins and UCSD data to project an estimated 
national average of burn center patients by calculating the estimated 
annual national average number of patients within the Baltimore primary 
metropolitan statistical area (PMSA) and San Diego metropolitan 
statistical area (MSA) and applying a factor to reach a national 
estimate. The number of patients (48) reported to be admitted by Johns 
Hopkins from July 1, 1987 to June 30, 1998 was applied to the 1998 
estimated population of the Baltimore PMSA (from which most of the 
cases came) of 2,475,000, and the estimated national population for 
1998 of 270,116,000 (based on data from the Statistical Abstract of the 
United States, 1998, U.S. Census Bureau, the Official Statistics, 
September 16, 1998.) Applying the burn incidence of the Baltimore PMSA 
to the national population resulted in an estimated 11-year total of 
5,239 scald burns from radiator caps, or an estimated 476 radiator cap 
scald cases annually throughout the United States requiring burn center 
hospitalization.
    We also examined UCSD data for the 20-month period from January 
1996 to August 1997, and made another estimate of the national 
incidence of radiator cap scald injuries requiring hospitalization. We 
used UCSD's eight reported radiator scald injuries during this period 
requiring hospital stays and applied it to the estimated 1998 
population for the San Diego MSA of 2,723,000. We then projected the 
scald burn hospitalization incidence from the San Diego MSA to the 
national population, and arrived at an estimated annual national 
incidence of radiator cap scald burn hospitalization of 476 cases, the 
same number derived from the Johns Hopkins data.
    Therefore, based on the estimates from the Johns Hopkins University 
Baltimore Regional Burn Center and the University of California San 
Diego Regional Burn Center, we project a national annual average of 476 
radiator scald cases requiring burn center in-patient hospitalization.
    The Johns Hopkins and UCSD data, used to project an estimated 476 
radiator scald hospitalizations per year, do not give a complete 
picture of the extent of injury to the American public resulting from 
opening a radiator cap or pressurized coolant reservoir cap on systems 
under high temperature and pressure. Since the Johns Hopkins and UCSD 
data are limited to injuries serious enough to require hospitalization, 
the data did not provide any estimates of how often people scalded by 
interactions with radiators were treated at hospital emergency rooms, 
doctors' offices or clinics, or had other medical treatment that did 
not involve hospitalization.

VII. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

A. CPSC and Other Data Show a Safety Need To Regulate Caps

    The CPSC's NEISS data showed that, in the United States from 
October 1, 1993 to September 30, 1994, an estimated 15,118 persons were 
injured (i.e., received scald burns extensive

[[Page 29753]]

enough to require treatment in hospital emergency rooms) as a result of 
activities relating to radiator caps. After reviewing Technical Report 
DOT HS 808 598 ``Injuries Associated With Specific Motor Vehicle 
Hazards: Radiators, Batteries, Power Windows and Power Roofs,'' and the 
1998 updated data from Johns Hopkins University Baltimore Regional Burn 
Center and the University of California San Diego Regional Burn Center, 
we have tentatively concluded that the problem of removing a radiator 
cap from a hot radiator or a reservoir cap from a coolant reservoir 
system under pressure has not been solved by the automotive industry as 
the agency had hoped when it suspended radiator cap rulemaking in 
January 1972. NHTSA therefore tentatively concludes that there is a 
safety need to establish a new Federal motor vehicle safety standard to 
regulate radiator and coolant reservoir cap performance.

B. Major Provisions of the Proposed Standard

    The following summarizes the major provisions of NHTSA's proposed 
standard on radiator caps and reservoir caps:
1. The New Standard Would Apply to New Motor Vehicles 4,536 Kg (10,000 
Pounds) GVWR or Less
    If made final, the standard would apply to new motor vehicles 
(except trailers and motorcycles) with a gross vehicle weight rating of 
4536 kg (10,000 pounds) or less with liquid-based engine cooling 
systems and with reservoir caps on pressurized coolant reservoir tanks 
or with radiator caps. However, the new standard would not require 
vehicles to have reservoir caps or radiator caps.
    If such new vehicles have either reservoir caps for pressurized 
coolant reservoir tanks or radiator caps, the vehicles must be designed 
to accommodate both original equipment and replacement radiator caps or 
reservoir caps that meet the new standard. Customers could tell whether 
a new vehicle meets the standard or not because vehicles that meet the 
new standard would have radiator or reservoir caps with ``DOT'' 
markings on them. Each radiator cap and each reservoir cap that meets 
the new standard would be marked with ``DOT'' and the manufacturer's 
maximum pressure rating for the cap.
2. The New Standard Would Apply to Original Equipment Caps and 
Replacement Caps
    The new standard would apply to original caps on new vehicles 
manufactured after the effective date of the new standard and to 
replacement caps intended for use on those vehicles.
3. Performance Requirements for Caps
    For the vehicles subject to the standard, we would require that 
when correctly fitted, the caps lock and remain locked when the 
radiator or cooling reservoir system is at and above 14 kilopascals 
(kPa) or 2 psi. Since the pressure would be the same throughout the 
system, we propose that the pressure be measured at the cap. We would 
further require that when the radiator or reservoir cooling system 
pressure drops below 14 kPa, and the cap unlocks, thereby becoming 
removable, the cap may be removable only if it is subjected to a 
particular motion or series of motions. The cap on a coolant reservoir 
system must be designed so that it is necessary to rotate them 
counterclockwise in order to remove them. In addition, we propose that, 
to be removed, the cap on a radiator must first be pushed down towards 
the radiator, and then rotated counterclockwise. Because most people 
are familiar with these motions from previous experience with child-
proof caps on bottles, most radiator caps and many pressurized 
reservoir caps, we tentatively conclude that labels or instructions 
would not be necessary to inform people how to remove the radiator cap. 
Nevertheless, we request comments on this point.
4. Manually Operated Pressure Release Mechanism on the Vehicle
    We further propose that, at the option of the vehicle manufacturer, 
a manually operated pressure release mechanism may be provided on the 
cooling system of a new motor vehicle subject to the standard. We do 
not propose to specify the location on the vehicle for the pressure 
release mechanism (e.g., lever), but would specify that the vehicle on 
which the venting would be provided must have a venting outlet that 
directs the venting of any liquid or gas downward and toward the center 
of the vehicle. Requiring that the venting be so directed would reduce 
the likelihood of the liquid or gas contacting the person operating the 
manual pressure release mechanism. This would not only prevent the 
venting liquid or steam from spraying toward a person's face, hands or 
upper body, but would also reduce the likelihood that a person's feet 
or legs would be sprayed.
5. Manually Operated Pressure Release Mechanism on the Cap
    We also propose that cap manufacturers not be limited simply to 
manufacture caps that lock above 14 kPa, but may also manufacture 
replacement radiator or coolant reservoir caps (which would have to 
lock under any pressure above 14 kPa) with a manually-operated pressure 
release mechanism incorporated into the cap to reduce the cooling 
system pressure below 14 kPa. This manually operated pressure release 
mechanism would permit fluid to flow from the radiator or coolant 
reservoir system, thereby reducing the pressure in the system faster 
than would occur through normal cooling of the system. Thus, there 
would be no need to wait for an extended period of time before the 
radiator cap or the coolant reservoir cap could be removed. We propose 
to require that the fluids released by the operation of a pressure 
release mechanism be directed downward and toward the center of the 
vehicle. This requirement is intended to reduce the likelihood of hot 
liquids or gases contacting a person operating the mechanism and also 
limit their contact with individuals standing next to the vehicle. The 
mechanism (e.g., lever) to control venting may be located on the 
radiator cap or the reservoir cap. However, to prevent operation of the 
mechanism from venting the system in any manner or location that would 
injure the person actuating it, the vented fluids would not be 
permitted to vent or leak through the cap itself.
    As is the case for the manually operated pressure release mechanism 
for the vehicle, we propose that the standard specify that the venting 
outlet, connected to the radiator or its cap or coolant reservoir or 
its cap, direct the venting of the fluids downward and toward the 
center of the vehicle. This should have the effect of preventing 
venting liquid or steam from spraying toward a person's face, hands or 
upper body, and reducing the likelihood of venting onto the ground in 
such a way that a person's feet or legs would be sprayed.
    Our reasons for proposing each of these provisions are described 
below.

C. Why We Propose Applying the Rule Only to Vehicles 4,536 Kg (10,000 
Pounds) GVWR or Less

    In the one-year period studied, fiscal year 1994, the CPSC's NEISS 
data files document only one hot radiator fluid scald injury from a 
motor vehicle with a GVWR over 4,536 kg (10,000 pounds). We have no 
information explaining why

[[Page 29754]]

such a low incidence rate was documented for vehicles over 4,536 kg 
(10,000 pounds) GVWR. However, since there does not appear to be a 
safety need to regulate them, we are not proposing to include vehicles 
over 4,536 kg GVWR in this rule.
    We are also not proposing that motorcycles be included in this rule 
because we do not have any data showing that removing radiator caps on 
very hot motorcycle systems is a safety problem. As stated earlier, 
when the CPSC's injury data collection effort was reviewed to determine 
the types of vehicles in which the radiator cap injuries were incurred, 
we found that passenger cars represented 91 percent of the cases, 
pickup trucks, approximately 7 percent of the cases, and trucks and 
vans, the remaining cases.
    We welcome any information or data that would show whether removing 
radiator caps on very hot motorcycle systems or very hot systems on 
vehicles that have a GVWR over 4,536 kg is a safety problem. If anyone 
has information showing that there is a potential for scald injuries 
with removing cooling system caps on motorcycle cooling systems or 
removing cooling system caps on vehicles over 4,536 kg GVWR, we request 
that that person also submit suggestions about requirements and test 
procedures for removing radiator caps and coolant reservoir caps from 
motorcycles or vehicles over 4,536 kg GVWR.

D. Why We Propose a Standard Based on Pressure, Not Temperature

    Mr. Giordano had suggested requiring all new vehicles to be 
equipped with a radiator cap that automatically locks when the coolant 
is at a temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.6 degrees Celsius) or 
greater. For the following reasons, we tentatively conclude that the 
locking requirement for caps should be based on pressure, instead of 
temperature. Although the temperature of fluid in the radiator is 
related to the safety problems addressed by this proposal, we believe 
the more important safety consideration in providing a solution to 
radiator-related scalds is the pressure in the coolant system. If there 
is little pressure to force liquid or steam up when the cap is removed, 
the risk of hot scalding fluid or steam being ejected from the radiator 
filler neck or coolant system reservoir would be essentially 
eliminated. Also, ambient temperature under the hood of a vehicle 
without the engine running could approach 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51.6 
degrees Celsius) during the hot part of a summer day in many States in 
the southern tier of the United States. Thus, adopting Mr. Giordano's 
suggestion might result in persons' not being able to add radiator 
fluid (because of a locked cap) in circumstances in which there is no 
danger of hot liquid or steam being ejected from the coolant system 
during cap removal.
    It should also be noted that a thermal locking cap could be 
defeated by placing cold material on the cap. This could cause 
localized cooling and allow the cap to be released while the cooling 
system remains hot and pressured.
    In order to determine the pressure at (or above) which caps should 
lock in order to prevent motorists from being scalded, NHTSA's Vehicle 
Research and Test Center (VRTC) in East Liberty, Ohio conducted tests 
that measured various radiator pressures, and observed the amount of 
fluid that was released at each of these pressures when the caps were 
removed. VRTC performed 14 radiator pressure release tests using a 1988 
Ford Mustang. The tests were performed by running the engine until it 
attained its full operating temperature and pressure. The engine was 
then turned off and the length of time required for the pressure in the 
cooling system to drop to specified pressure levels was recorded.
    The highest pressure achieved during the tests was 15.3 psi. The 
time required for the pressure to drop from 15.3 psi to 3 psi was 22 
minutes, 30 seconds. During these tests, the radiator cap was removed 
when the pressure was measured at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 psi. The 
discharge of fluid from the radiator when the cap was removed at each 
of those pressure levels was documented by the use of a video camera. 
Nine tests were performed with a full radiator. Five tests were 
performed with 1500 milliliters of fluid removed from the radiator. The 
videotape showed that after radiator cap removal, the least amount of 
fluid was released when the radiator pressure was at 1 and 2 psi. 
Documentation of the VRTC testing has been placed in the DOT Docket 
cited in the heading of this notice.
    While we believe the safest cap would be one that locks at the 
lowest pressure, data from a 1994 Stant Manufacturing, Inc., pressure 
cooling system tester manual indicate the manufacturing parameters of 
the compression spring used in some Stant radiator caps include a 
tolerance of plus or minus one pound. It therefore appears that any 
proposed cap locking pressure would be limited by the tolerance of the 
compression spring used in the cap. We believe that in order to reduce 
tolerance, a more costly spring would have to be used. Weighing the 
need for safety against a desire to minimize the costs of this 
rulemaking on manufacturers, we propose that the cap locking pressure 
be established at 14 kPa (2 psi) or more.

E. Performance Requirements for Radiator Caps and Reservoir Caps

    We are seeking public comment on whether to establish two separate 
safety requirements governing the removal of radiator caps. The first 
requirement (which would be applicable to both radiator and coolant 
reservoir caps) would be that the cap lock and remain locked at or 
above a pressure of 14 kPa or 2 psi. The proposal would not preclude 
any cap or vehicle manufacturer from producing a cap that locks at 
pressures below 14 kPa. The second requirement (applicable only to 
radiator caps) would be that even when the pressure is at or below that 
pressure, the cap shall not be removable by rotation only. Radiators 
would be required to be designed so that removal of a cap would be 
possible only by simultaneously pressing down on the cap and rotating 
it counterclockwise. We are seeking comment on requiring this two-
motion process because it might help to reduce injuries associated with 
cap removal when the radiator contents are not quite hot enough to 
create the pressure necessary for the cap to lock.
    As a result of the 1967 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (32 
FR 14282; October 14, 1967) on radiator caps, we learned that the 
industry standard for the method of removing a radiator cap was the 
two-motion process described in the immediately preceding paragraph. 
However, we have no information indicating that this two-motion process 
is used for caps on coolant reservoir systems also.
    As indicated in the questions raised in Section K of this notice of 
proposed rulemaking, public comment is sought on whether the described 
motions are used by industry to open both radiator caps and coolant 
reservoir caps, and whether specifying the two-motion process would 
impose a new regulatory burden with no safety benefit. Comments on 
whether any motions should be specified are also sought.

F. Compatibility Issues for New Caps/Old Vehicles and New Vehicles/Old 
Caps

    Although the use of pressure locking radiator and coolant reservoir 
caps on vehicles manufactured before the effective date of the proposed 
standard would, if sufficiently pervasive, reduce the incidence of 
scaldings involving those vehicles, we are not proposing to require 
that caps subject to the new standard be compatible with those older

[[Page 29755]]

vehicles. We realize that there will be a lag time during which pre-
standard vehicles will be in existence. This lag time is of concern to 
the agency since, as noted earlier, radiator cap scald incidents are 
significantly greater for those model year vehicles that have been in 
use for at least five years, and peak for those vehicles in use from 10 
to 15 years. If, however, there would be a cost-effective way to make a 
new standard-compliant replacement cap that fits pre-standard vehicles, 
the agency would encourage the development and sale of such a product.
    We also are not proposing that new vehicles that meet the new 
standard be designed to be incompatible with old radiator or reservoir 
caps that do not meet the new standard. Although the use of pre-
standard caps on post-standard vehicles would, to the extent it 
occurred, allow a continuation of the scald problem, we do not believe 
that there would be any incentive to replace compliant caps with non-
compliant, pre-standard caps. If the owner of a new vehicle with a 
compliant cap needed to replace a lost cap, we believe that the owner 
would likely purchase a compliant replacement cap, given the safety 
advantages of such caps. Consumers can readily determine whether a 
radiator or reservoir cap meets the new standard by looking for the 
``DOT'' certification on the cap. Further, after the new standard's 
effective date, all new and replacement radiator and reservoir caps 
intended for new vehicles will meet the new requirement, and thus, the 
supply of nonconforming caps should decrease over a period of time.

G. Testing Procedures for the New Caps

    We are not proposing any elaborate test procedures to determine 
whether a cap meets the new safety standard. Compliance would be 
demonstrated by attaching the cap to a motor vehicle cooling system and 
pressurizing the system above the specified minimum locking pressure, 
but not exceeding the system pressure for which the cap was designed. 
We would then attempt to remove the cap. The cap must not be removable 
or vent pressure or fluids during an attempt to remove the cap.
    Based on our presumption that the standardized two-motion process 
would be required to remove radiator caps, we propose a test procedure 
based on the two required motions. The first motion would be a force of 
not greater than 225 Newtons applied to the radiator cap, axially 
toward the radiator, and perpendicular to the top of the cap. While 
maintaining this downward force, we would apply a torque of not greater 
than 40 Newton-meters to the cap, in a counter-clockwise direction, to 
remove it.
    In selecting a limit for the downward force applied in removing a 
cap, we noted that the filler pipe opening area of many standard 
radiator systems is about one square inch. The force of the pressure 
pushing up against this cap when the system is fully pressurized would 
depend on the cap's pressure setting. For a cap with a 1.7 kPa setting, 
the upward force is about 113 Newtons. We propose using a safety factor 
of two, resulting in our proposal of a downward test force of 225 
Newtons.
    Similarly for the rotational movement, we propose a torque limit of 
40 Newton-meters. We selected this limit after taking into 
consideration the strength of the strongest motorists. The Wesley E. 
Woodson's Human Factors Handbook under the heading of ``Human 
Strength'' indicates that husky male operators can exert a torque up to 
15 ft-lb in trying to rotate a knob or cap with a diameter between 2 
and 3 inches (5.1 cm and 7.6 cm) or 3.25 inches (8.2 cm) maximum. That 
value is based on a full right-handed grip. To allow for those people 
with above average strength whose hand grip may be stronger than 15 ft-
lb (and may be able to open a radiator cap of 15 ft-lb), NHTSA proposes 
to double the hand grip capability for husky male operators, and use a 
torque limit of 40 Newton-meters (30 ft-lb).

H. Testing Procedures for New Vehicles

    For new vehicles that permit venting of fluids or steam, we propose 
to test the vehicles to determine where fluids would be directed when 
they are vented from the radiator or coolant reservoir systems. For 
those vehicle cooling systems that include a means of reducing the 
cooling system pressure by venting fluids or steam, we propose that 
testing be done by applying pressurized water to the cooling system via 
a drain cock or vent fitting in either the engine or radiator, with the 
cooling system filled with water. The venting mechanism on the vehicle 
would then be actuated. The personnel conducting the testing would 
observe where the escaping water (if any) is directed.
    This test would be conducted at ambient temperature. Therefore, 
there could not be any release of steam. We request comments on whether 
this test is sufficient to ensure that steam would not contact an 
individual who was operating the mechanism on a hot vehicle. In other 
words, we would like to know whether steam would be vented in the same 
way as pressurized water at ambient temperatures. To the extent that 
the proposed procedure would not address the venting of steam, we 
request comments on alternative test procedures.

I. ``DOT'' Symbol and Manufacturers' Maximum Pressure Rating for Each 
Radiator Cap and Reservoir Cap

    We propose that each radiator cap and coolant reservoir cap subject 
to the proposed new standard be permanently marked with the symbol 
``DOT'' as certification that the cap meets the new standard. We are 
not proposing any specifications for the size or the font of the 
letters. Further, we are not proposing that only labels be used, or 
that contrasting colors must be used. We propose to let cap 
manufacturers use their discretion in determining the best way to meet 
the requirement to provide the ``DOT'' certification. The cap 
manufacturer may emboss or engrave ``DOT'' directly onto the cap, or 
may place a permanent label on the cap. We propose to construe the term 
``permanent'' in the same way as that term has been used for purposes 
of the certification labeling requirements described in 49 CFR part 
567, Certification.
    We are also proposing that cap manufacturers permanently label each 
cap with its maximum pressure rating for the cap. This information will 
let consumers know the maximum pressure within the radiator or cooling 
reservoir system that the system is designed to withstand. We believe 
that when they seek a replacement cap for the systems on their motor 
vehicles, consumers need to know the maximum pressure capability of the 
old cap to ensure that they or service personnel select a replacement 
cap with equal or greater capability. Many radiator cap or reservoir 
caps appear to be physically identical to each other, but in fact have 
different pressure performances. We emphasize that the maximum pressure 
proposal is for labeling purposes only. We are not trying to specify 
the maximum pressure for any cap.

J. Why We Are Not Proposing Warning Labels

    Most radiator cap and reservoir cap manufacturers already place 
some type of warning on the cap stating that the cap should not be 
opened when the system is hot and under pressure. We considered 
proposing to require that all caps be labeled with such a warning, but 
decided not to do so. As previously noted, in 1972, when we terminated 
a rulemaking on radiator caps, one of the rationales for the 
termination was that among the measures taken by the automotive 
industry to resolve the problem was to place a warning on the

[[Page 29756]]

caps. As earlier noted, the injury data show that the warning label, 
and other measures taken by industry, did not appear to have reduced 
injuries resulting from opening radiator caps and coolant reservoir 
caps under high heat and high pressure. Further, given that the cap 
manufacturers will likely continue to do so, and given our assumption 
below that the proposed requirement for the locking of caps could be 95 
percent effective in reducing scaldings from the contents of radiators 
and coolant reservoirs, the marginal value of mandating warnings on all 
caps would be minimal.
    Although we are not proposing any warning label requirements, we 
solicit comments on the need for warnings and on the sufficiency and 
appearance of existing warnings.

K. Additional Issues

    We also ask for comments on the following issues relevant to this 
rulemaking:
    (1) We have noted that radiator caps and coolant reservoir caps 
generally are removed by at least one motion--counterclockwise 
rotation, and that many radiator caps, while being removed, must be 
pushed down during that rotation. We believe that for consistency of 
use for people who must remove radiator caps, the movement, and perhaps 
the minimum forces, used to remove those caps should be standardized. 
We intend to minimize any need to redesign existing systems, by 
proposing to standardize the motions for cap removal. With this 
premise, please answer the following questions, for vehicles that have 
a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or less. In 
answering questions regarding future plans for vehicle system 
performance, please assume that the rule proposed in this NPRM will not 
be in effect.
    (a) For liquid-cooled engine systems, what are the maximum cap 
pressure(s) on vehicles being sold in the U.S. in MY 2001? What maximum 
cap pressure(s) does your company anticipate establishing for systems 
on liquid-cooled motor vehicles to be sold in the U.S. in the future? 
Please specify whether the maximum pressure is for a radiator cap or a 
coolant reservoir cap.
    (b) What are the largest neck opening diameters on motor vehicles 
(with liquid-cooled systems) being sold in the U.S. in MY 2001? What 
neck-opening diameter(s) does your company anticipate specifying on 
motor vehicle liquid-cooled systems to be sold in the U.S. in the 
future? Please specify whether the neck openings are for radiators or 
for coolant reservoirs. Please provide diameters in millimeters.
    (c) What force(s) does your company use as the minimum downward 
axial force and/or torque necessary to remove radiator caps or coolant 
reservoir caps on motor vehicles (with liquid-cooled systems) being 
sold in the U.S. in MY 2001?
    (2) In this NPRM, we propose that a cap not be removable from a 
radiator or coolant reservoir system that is under a pressure of 14 kPa 
(2 psi) or greater. We selected this value in part because we believe 
specifying a more precise pressure (e.g., 2.5 psi) would result in 
extra costs to manufacturers. Is there a safety value in specifying the 
locking pressure to a more precise value? If so, can such a value be 
specified without unduly increasing the cost of the cap? Is a lower 
locking pressure possible? At 2 psi, the effluent would be 
approximately 51.6 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit). We believe 
that a lower pressure is desirable because the fluid temperature would 
also be lower and therefore would be less likely to scald.
    (3) We propose that fluids vented through actuation of a manually 
operated pressure release mechanism vent ``downward and toward the 
center of the vehicle'' to reduce the likelihood that fluids would 
contact the person operating the venting mechanism. Is this a 
sufficiently objective and effective way of specifying this 
performance? Are there better ways of specifying the desired venting 
performance that would provide greater assurance that the vented fluids 
do not contact the operator or bystanders standing alongside a motor 
vehicle?

VIII. Leadtime

    We propose that the new standard apply to applicable vehicles 
manufactured on or after the first September 1st that occurs two or 
more years after the publication of the final rule. We also propose the 
same effective date for replacement radiator caps and coolant reservoir 
caps for use on those vehicles. The agency notes that there would not 
be any requirements applicable to the manufacture and sale of caps 
(manufactured after the new standard's effective date) that are 
designed to or recommended to fit only on pre-standard vehicles. Public 
comment is sought on these proposed lead times. We believe that two 
years is sufficient lead time for industry. We do not believe that this 
proposed rule involves any new technology, or performance 
specifications that manufacturers cannot meet with existing design, 
tooling, or manufacturing capabilities. If this proposal were made 
final, we would encourage manufacturers to comply as soon as possible.

IX. Regulatory Analyses and Notices

A. Executive Order 12866 and DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    Executive Order 12866, ``Regulatory Planning and Review'' (58 FR 
51735, October 4, 1993), provides for making determinations whether a 
regulatory action is ``significant'' and therefore subject to Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) review and to the requirements of the 
Executive Order. The Order defines a ``significant regulatory action'' 
as one that is likely to result in a rule that may:
    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or 
adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the 
economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public 
health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or 
communities;
    (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an 
action taken or planned by another agency;
    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, 
user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients 
thereof; or
    (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal 
mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in 
the Executive Order.
    We have considered the impact of this rulemaking action under 
Executive Order 12866 and the Department of Transportation's regulatory 
policies and procedures. This rulemaking document was not reviewed by 
the Office of Management and Budget under E.O. 12866, ``Regulatory 
Planning and Review.'' The rulemaking action is also not considered to 
be significant under the Department's Regulatory Policies and 
Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979).
    The annual incremental cost of new and replacement radiator caps 
and coolant reservoir caps for the passenger car and light truck fleet 
would be $14 million. The estimated incremental cost increase 
associated with the requirements proposed in this NPRM would be $0.65 
for a radiator cap and $0.43 for a coolant reservoir cap. The total 
medical cost savings and work loss savings would be an estimated $76 
million. The estimated annual net monetary benefits would be $62 
million. We assume the caps would be 95 percent effective, resulting in 
an annual reduction of 28,271 scald injuries. This estimate is based on 
visits to hospitals,

[[Page 29757]]

which have been adjusted to include less severe cases resulting in 
visits to clinics, and doctors' offices.
    The complete regulatory evaluation of this rulemaking, ``FMVSS No. 
402 Radiator and Coolant Reservoir Caps, Venting of Motor Vehicle 
Coolant Systems' is provided in the DOT Docket cited in the heading of 
this notice.

B. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    Executive Order 13132 requires us to develop an accountable process 
to ensure ``meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in 
the development of regulatory policies that have federalism 
implications.'' ``Policies that have federalism implications'' is 
defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have 
``substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between 
the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government.'' Under 
Executive Order 13132, we may not issue a regulation with Federalism 
implications, that imposes substantial direct compliance costs, and 
that is not required by statute, unless the Federal government provides 
the funds necessary to pay the direct compliance costs incurred by 
State and local governments, or unless we consult with State and local 
governments, or unless we consult with State and local officials early 
in the process of developing the proposed regulation. We also may not 
issue a regulation with Federalism implications and that preempts State 
law unless we consult with State and local officials early in the 
process of developing the proposed regulation.
    This proposed rule would not have substantial direct effects on the 
States, on the relationship between the national government and the 
States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the 
various levels of government, as specified in Executive Order 13132. 
The reason is that this proposed rule, if made final, would apply to 
motor vehicle manufacturers and manufacturers of radiator caps or 
reservoir caps, and not to the States or local governments. Thus, the 
requirements of Section 6 of the Executive Order do not apply to this 
proposed rule.

C. Executive Order 13045 (Economically Significant Rules 
Disproportionately Affecting Children)

    Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997) applies to any 
rule that: (1) is determined to be ``economically significant'' as 
defined under E.O. 12866, and (2) concerns an environmental, health or 
safety risk that NHTSA has reason to believe may have a 
disproportionate effect on children. If the regulatory action meets 
both criteria, we must evaluate the environmental health or safety 
effects of the planned rule on children, and explain why the planned 
regulation is preferable to other potentially effective and reasonably 
feasible alternatives considered by us.
    This proposed rule is not subject to the Executive Order because it 
is not economically significant as defined in E.O. 12866 and does not 
involve decisions based on environmental, health or safety risks that 
disproportionately affect children.

D. Executive Order 12778 (Civil Justice Reform)

    Pursuant to Executive Order 12778, ``Civil Justice Reform,'' we 
have considered whether this proposed rule would have any retroactive 
effect. We conclude that it would not have such an effect. Under 49 
U.S.C. 30103, whenever a Federal motor vehicle safety standard is in 
effect, a State may not adopt or maintain a safety standard applicable 
to the same aspect of performance which is not identical to the Federal 
standard, except to the extent that the state requirement imposes a 
higher level of performance and applies only to vehicles procured for 
the State's use. 49 U.S.C. 30161 sets forth a procedure for judicial 
review of final rules establishing, amending or revoking Federal motor 
vehicle safety standards. That section does not require submission of a 
petition for reconsideration or other administrative proceedings before 
parties may file suit in court.

E. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., 
as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act 
(SBREFA) of 1996) whenever an agency is required to publish a notice of 
rulemaking for any proposed or final rule, it must prepare and make 
available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that 
describes the effect of the rule on small entities (i.e., small 
businesses, small organizations, and small governmental jurisdictions). 
However, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required if the head of 
an agency certifies the rule would not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities. SBREFA amended the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act to require Federal agencies to provide a 
statement of the factual basis for certifying that a rule would not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities.
    The Head of the Agency has considered the effects of this 
rulemaking action under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et 
seq.) and certifies that this proposal would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The 
statement of the factual basis for the certification is that we are not 
aware that any radiator cap or coolant reservoir cap manufacturer, or 
radiator manufacturer or coolant reservoir manufacturer is a small 
business. The U.S. Small Business Administration's size standard for 
Standard Industrial Classification Code 3714 ``Motor Vehicle Parts and 
Accessories'' manufacturers is 750 employees (13 CFR 121.201). NHTSA 
has no information that any radiator cap or coolant reservoir cap 
manufacturer is a small business that is not owned or otherwise 
affiliated with a large business. Accordingly, the agency believes that 
this proposal would not affect the costs of radiator cap and reservoir 
cap manufacturers considered to be small business entities.

F. National Environmental Policy Act

    We have analyzed this proposal for the purposes of the National 
Environmental Policy Act and determined that it would not have any 
significant impact on the quality of the human environment.

G. Paperwork Reduction Act

    NHTSA has determined that, if made final, this proposed rule would 
impose new collection of information burdens within the meaning of the 
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA). Under the PRA, before an agency 
submits a proposed collection of information to OMB for approval, it 
must publish a document in the Federal Register providing a 60-day 
comment period and otherwise consult with members of the public and 
affected agencies concerning each proposed collection of information. 
The OMB has promulgated regulations describing what must be included in 
such a document. Under OMB's regulations, (at 5 CFR 1320.8(d)), an 
agency must ask for public comment on the following:
    (I) whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for 
the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including 
whether the information will have practical utility;
    (ii) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the 
proposed collection of information, including the validity of the 
methodology and assumptions used;

[[Page 29758]]

    (iii) how to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the 
information to be collected; and;
    (iv) how to minimize the burden of the collection of information on 
those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, 
electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or 
other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic 
submission of responses.
    In compliance with these requirements, NHTSA asks public comment on 
the collection of information proposed in this notice of proposed 
rulemaking.

Labeling for Radiator and Cooling Reservoir Caps

    Type of Request--New.
    OMB Clearance Number--None assigned.
    Form Number--This proposed collection of information would not use 
any standard forms.
    Requested Expiration Date of Approval--Three years from the date of 
approval of the collection.
    Summary of the Collection of Information--NHTSA proposes that each 
radiator cap and coolant reservoir cap subject to the proposed new 
standard be marked with the symbol ``DOT'' as certification that the 
cap meets the new standard. We propose to let cap manufacturers use 
their discretion in determining the best way it can meet the 
requirement to provide the ``DOT'' certification. However, the ``DOT'' 
must be permanently marked.
    We are also proposing that cap manufacturers permanently label each 
cap with its maximum pressure rating for the cap.
    Description of the Need for the Information and Proposed Use of the 
Information--The statute under which this proposal is being issued 
requires manufacturers to certify the compliance of their motor 
vehicles and motor vehicle equipment with all applicable FMVSS. In 
addition, the ``DOT'' certification on each cap is necessary so that 
consumers would know whether a radiator or coolant reservoir cap meets 
the proposed performance requirements. The maximum pressure rating 
labeled on each cap would let consumers know that the maximum pressure 
capability of the cap. When they seek a replacement cap for the systems 
on their motor vehicles, consumers need to know maximum pressure 
information to ensure that they or service personnel get the cap that 
has equal or greater capability. Many radiator cap or reservoir caps 
appear to be physically identical to each other, but in fact have 
different pressure performance capabilities.
    Description of the Likely Respondents (Including Estimated Number, 
and Proposed Frequency of Response to the Collection of Information--
The new collection of information would apply to manufacturers of 
radiator caps and manufacturers of pressurized coolant reservoir tank 
caps. NHTSA has no estimate of the number of cap manufacturers that 
would be subject to the requirement, but does not believe any of these 
manufacturers is a small business.
    Estimate of the Total Annual Reporting and Recordkeeping Burden 
Resulting from the Collection of Information--The total annual 
reporting burden is estimated as follows.
    New Caps on New Motor Vehicles--Based on 1999 sales of vehicles in 
the United States, we estimate that each year, out of a total passenger 
car and light truck sales of approximately 16,890,000, there would be a 
total of approximately 12,667,901 radiator caps (75 percent of the 
fleet) and 4,222,634 coolant reservoir caps (25 percent of the fleet). 
Manufacturers are already aware of the maximum pressure rating for 
their radiator caps and coolant reservoir caps. We estimate that it 
would take one second per cap to label, print, or otherwise mark the 
``DOT'' certification and maximum pressure rating on each cap. 
Therefore, the total burden hours on the public per year imposed by 
caps on new motor vehicles subject to this proposed rule would be 4,692 
hours (16,890,535 caps, taking one second per cap to mark divided by 
3600 seconds in an hour). In reality, the burden on the public should 
be less than 4,692 hours per year because many manufacturers already 
voluntarily label the maximum pressure rating information on the caps. 
If it costs one cent per cap to label the information on the caps, the 
total cost burden on the public would be $168,905.35.
    New Replacement Caps for Use on Vehicles Subject to the Proposed 
Rule--In this NPRM, NHTSA does not propose that new replacement caps 
subject to this proposed rule be required to be compatible with pre-
standard vehicles. This means that for a period of time, replacement 
caps for both vehicles that are subject to the new standard, and for 
older, pre-standard vehicles would be manufactured. The collection of 
information burden would be imposed only by new replacement caps that 
are designed for vehicles that are subject to the new standard.
    As noted in the regulatory evaluation (provided in the DOT Docket 
cited in the heading of this notice), NHTSA assumes that radiator caps 
and coolant reservoir caps are replaced on average, once over a ten 
year period. NHTSA estimates that after a 10 year period (when the rule 
proposed in this NPRM has been in effect for 10 years), there would be 
12.9 million new replacement caps manufactured per year that meet the 
proposed standard.
    In the request for clearance at issue, NHTSA seeks OMB approval for 
a collection of information burden imposed by new replacement caps 
subject to the new rule for the first three years the rule is in 
effect. NHTSA does not believe the new vehicles subject to the standard 
would need many new replacement caps that meet the standard. The 
following figures take into account new replacement caps for vehicles 
that are subject to the standard, and also new replacement caps that 
may be compatible with pre-standard vehicles. For the first three years 
of the rule's existence, NHTSA estimates that for new replacement caps, 
in the first year, 100,000 new replacement caps that meet the new 
standard would be manufactured, in the second year 200,000 new 
replacement caps would be manufactured, and in the third year, 300,000 
new replacement caps would be manufactured. This results in an average 
of 200,000 new replacement caps per year for three years.
    We estimate that it would take one second per cap to label, print, 
or otherwise mark the ``DOT'' certification and maximum pressure rating 
on each cap. Therefore, total burden hours on the public per year would 
be 55.5 hours (200,000 caps, taking one second per cap to mark divided 
by 3600 seconds in an hour) from marking new replacement caps. In 
reality, the added burden on the public should be less than 55.5 hours 
per year because many manufacturers already voluntarily label the 
maximum pressure rating information on the caps. If it costs one cent 
per cap to label the information on the caps, the total cost burden on 
the public would be $2000 per year for labeling new replacement caps.
    Total Burdens--Therefore, NHTSA estimates that the total burden 
hours imposed on the public from labeling new caps on new vehicles and 
labeling new replacement caps to be an average of 4,747 hours (4,692 
hours (vehicle caps) plus 55 hours (replacement caps)) per year, and an 
average cost of $170,905.35 ($168,905.35 (vehicle caps) plus $2000 
(replacement caps)) per year.
    NHTSA recognizes that some manufacturers may choose to emboss the 
``DOT'' certification and maximum pressure ratings on their caps. This 
proposed rule permits, but does not

[[Page 29759]]

require embossing. The proposed rule requires some type of labeling. 
Since we are estimating our burdens on the public based on minimum 
requirements, we are not taking into account additional costs that may 
result from embossing. However, NHTSA seeks comment on what (if any) 
additional costs may result from embossing, rather than labeling, caps.
    Since nothing in this proposed rule would require radiator cap 
manufacturers or coolant reservoir cap manufacturers to keep records, 
recordkeeping costs imposed would be zero hours and zero dollars.

H. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement 
Act of 1995 (NTTAA), Public Law 104-113, section 12(d) (15 U.S.C. 272) 
directs us to use voluntary consensus standards in our regulatory 
activities unless doing so would be inconsistent with applicable law or 
otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical 
standards (e.g., materials specifications, test methods, sampling 
procedures, and business practices) that are developed or adopted by 
voluntary consensus standards bodies, such as the Society of Automotive 
Engineers (SAE). The NTTAA directs us to provide Congress, through OMB, 
explanations when we decide not to use available and applicable 
voluntary consensus standards.
    After conducting a search of available sources, we have determined 
that there are not any available and applicable voluntary consensus 
standards that we can use in this notice of proposed rulemaking. We 
have searched the SAE's Recommended Practices applicable to radiator 
caps. We found SAE J164 Radiator Caps and Filler Necks JUN91, which 
provides dimensions for the different pressure ratings of bayonet type 
radiator pressure caps and filler necks. There is also SAE J151 
Pressure Relief for Cooling System JUN91, which specifies the 
requirements for pressure relief means and pressure relief rating 
identification for cooling systems of liquid cooled engines. Neither of 
these SAE Standards provides guidance on specifying how caps are to 
perform in a manner that prevents their removal when the cooling system 
is under dangerously high pressure and temperature. Since neither SAE 
Standard provides guidance on an issue material to this rulemaking, we 
have developed our own proposal.

I. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) 
requires Federal agencies to prepare a written assessment of the costs, 
benefits and other effects of proposed or final rules that include a 
Federal mandate likely to result in the expenditure by State, local or 
tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of more 
than $100 million in any one year (adjusted for inflation with base 
year of 1995). Before promulgating a NHTSA rule for which a written 
statement is needed, section 205 of the UMRA generally requires us to 
identify and consider a reasonable number of regulatory alternatives 
and adopt the least costly, most cost-effective or least burdensome 
alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule. The provisions of 
section 205 do not apply when they are inconsistent with applicable 
law. Moreover, section 205 allows us to adopt an alternative other than 
the least costly, most cost-effective or least burdensome alternative 
if we publish with the final rule an explanation why that alternative 
was not adopted.
    This proposal would not result in costs of $100 million or more to 
either State, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or to the 
private sector. Thus, this proposal is not subject to the requirements 
of sections 202 and 205 of the UMRA.

J. Plain Language

    Executive Order 12866 requires each agency to write all rules in 
plain language. Application of the principles of plain language 
includes consideration of the following questions:

--Have we organized the material to suit the public's needs?
--Are the requirements in the rule clearly stated?
--Does the rule contain technical language or jargon that is not clear?
--Would a different format (grouping and order of sections, use of 
headings, paragraphing) make the rule easier to understand?
--Would more (but shorter) sections be better?
--Could we improve clarity by adding tables, lists, or diagrams?
--What else could we do to make this rulemaking easier to understand?

    If you have any responses to these questions, please include them 
in your comments on this NPRM.

K. Regulation Identifier Number (RIN)

    The Department of Transportation assigns a regulation identifier 
number (RIN) to each regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of 
Federal Regulations. The Regulatory Information Service Center 
publishes the Unified Agenda in April and October of each year. You may 
use the RIN contained in the heading at the beginning of this document 
to find this action in the Unified Agenda.

Comments

How Do I Prepare and Submit Comments?

    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your 
comments are correctly filed in the Docket, please include the docket 
number of this document in your comments.
    Your comments must not be more than 15 pages long. (49 CFR 553.21). 
We established this limit to encourage you to write your primary 
comments in a concise fashion. However, you may attach necessary 
additional documents to your comments. There is no limit on the length 
of the attachments.
    Please submit two copies of your comments, including the 
attachments, to Docket Management at the address given above under 
ADDRESS.
    You may also submit your comments to the docket electronically by 
logging onto the Dockets Management System website at http://dms.dot.gov. Click on ``Help & Information'' or ``Help/Info'' to obtain 
instructions for filing the document electronically.

How Can I Be Sure That My Comments Were Received?

    If you wish Docket Management to notify you upon its receipt of 
your comments, enclose a self-addressed, stamped postcard in the 
envelope containing your comments. Upon receiving your comments, Docket 
Management will return the postcard by mail.

How Do I Submit Confidential Business Information?

    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of 
confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete 
submission, including the information you claim to be confidential 
business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the address given 
above under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition, you should 
submit two copies, from which you have deleted the claimed confidential 
business information, to Docket Management at the address given above 
under ADDRESS. When you send a comment containing information claimed 
to be confidential business information, you should include a cover

[[Page 29760]]

letter setting forth the information specified in our confidential 
business information regulation. (49 CFR Part 512.)

Will the Agency Consider Late Comments?

    We will consider all comments that Docket Management receives 
before the close of business on the comment closing date indicated 
above under DATES. To the extent possible, we will also consider 
comments that Docket Management receives after that date. If Docket 
Management receives a comment too late for us to consider it in 
developing a final rule (assuming that one is issued), we will consider 
that comment as an informal suggestion for future rulemaking action.

How Can I Read the Comments Submitted by Other People?

    You may read the comments received by Docket Management at the 
address given above under ADDRESSES. The hours of the Docket are 
indicated above in the same location.
    You may also see the comments on the Internet. To read the comments 
on the Internet, take the following steps:
    8. Go to the Docket Management System (DMS) Web page of the 
Department of Transportation (http://dms.dot.gov/).
    9. On that page, click on ``search.''
    10. On the next page (http://dms.dot.gov/search/), type in the 
four-digit docket number shown at the beginning of this document. 
Example: If the docket number were ``NHTSA-1998-1234,'' you would type 
``1234.'' After typing the docket number, click on ``search.''
    11. On the next page, which contains docket summary information for 
the docket you selected, click on the desired comments. You may 
download the comments. Although the comments are imaged documents, 
instead of word processing documents, the ``pdf'' versions of the 
documents are word searchable.
    Please note that even after the comment closing date, we will 
continue to file relevant information in the Docket as it becomes 
available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly, 
we recommend that you periodically check the Docket for new material.

List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 571

    Imports, Motor vehicle safety, Motor vehicles, Rubber and rubber 
products, Tires.

    In consideration of the foregoing, it is proposed that the Federal 
Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (49 CFR Part 571), be amended as set 
forth below.

PART 571--FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS

    1. The authority citation for part 571 would continue to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 322, 30111, 30115, 30117, and 30166; 
delegation of authority at 49 CFR 1.50.

    2. Section 571.402 would be added to read as follows:


Sec. 571.402  Standard No. 402; Radiator and coolant reservoir caps, 
venting of motor vehicle cooling systems.

    S1. Scope. This standard specifies performance requirements for 
radiator caps and coolant reservoir caps on liquid-based cooling 
systems for motor vehicle engines. This standard also specifies 
performance requirements for the venting of those cooling systems.
    S2. Purpose. The purpose of this standard is:
    (a) To reduce the number of scald injuries that occur when people 
remove radiator caps or coolant reservoir caps of liquid-based cooling 
systems for motor vehicle engines when the contents of those systems 
are hot and under high pressure; and
    (b) To reduce the likelihood that the discharge of hot fluids from 
a manually operated pressure release mechanism for one of those cooling 
systems will contact the person actuating the mechanism.
    S3. Application. This standard applies to---
    (a) Motor vehicles (except motorcycles and trailers) that have a 
gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg (10,000 lb) or less and a 
liquid-based cooling system for their engines; and
    (b) Radiator caps and coolant reservoir caps recommended for use on 
the engine cooling systems in the motor vehicles subject to this 
standard.
    S4. Definitions.
    Cap means a radiator cap or a coolant reservoir cap recommended for 
use in a motor vehicle subject to this standard.
    Coolant reservoir cap means any removable device that is used to 
close the filler neck opening of a pressurized reservoir tank of a 
liquid-based cooling system for a motor vehicle engine.
    Fluids means substances, such as liquids or gases, that are capable 
of flowing and that change shape at a steady rate when acted upon by 
any force tending to change their shape.
    Manually operated pressure release mechanism means any mechanism 
intended to be operated or actuated for the purpose of reducing the 
cooling system pressure, and whose operation does not involve removal 
of a cap from a cooling system filler neck.
    Radiator cap means any removable device that is used to close the 
filler neck opening of a pressurized radiator of a liquid-based cooling 
system for a motor vehicle engine.
    S5. Requirements.
    S5.1 Radiator Caps and Coolant Reservoir Caps.
    (a) Caps must be removable without the use of any tools.
    (b) Each cap, when installed in the fully-closed position on a 
motor vehicle cooling system for which it is recommended, and when 
tested in accordance with S6.1(a), must not be manually removable when 
the pressure in the system is at or above 14kPa. In addition, such a 
cap must not vent any internal cooling system pressure or fluids during 
that test.
    (c) In the case of each cap that has a manually operated pressure 
release mechanism, when the cap is installed in the fully-closed 
position, and tested in accordance with S6.1(b), actuation of the 
mechanism must not result in the venting of any fluids through the cap 
or the seal at the cap-to-filler neck interface.
    (d) Each cap must have a label permanently affixed to it with the 
following information:
    (1) The symbol ``DOT'' constituting certification by the cap 
manufacturer that the cap complies with this standard, and (2) The 
manufacturer's maximum pressure rating for the cap.
    S5.2 Motor vehicles.
    (a) Each cap on a motor vehicle subject to this standard must 
comply with the applicable requirements of S5.1.
    (b) Each radiator cap, when installed in the fully-closed position 
on a motor vehicle cooling system for which it is recommended, must not 
be manually removable unless it is first pushed axially toward the 
radiator, and then, while still being pushed, is rotated in a counter-
clockwise direction.
    (c) Each coolant reservoir cap, when installed in the fully-closed 
position on a motor vehicle cooling system for which it is recommended, 
must not be manually removable unless it is rotated in a counter-
clockwise direction.
    (d) In the case of motor vehicles equipped with a cap or caps that 
include a manually operated pressure release mechanism, each such cap 
must comply with the requirements of S5.1(c).
    (e) In the case of motor vehicles equipped with an engine cooling 
system that includes a cap with a manually operated pressure release 
mechanism or has a manually operated pressure

[[Page 29761]]

release mechanism in a location other than its cap, testing each such 
mechanism in accordance with S6.2 must not result in the venting of any 
fluids through the cap or the seal at the cap-to-filler neck interface, 
and either must not permit the venting of any fluids outside of the 
pressurized part of the system, or must direct any fluids vented from 
any part of the system downward and toward the center of the vehicle.
    S6. Test procedures.
    S6.1 Radiator caps and reservoir caps. Each cap is tested as 
specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) of S6.1.
    (a) Removal.
    (1) Using water, fill the radiator or coolant reservoir system, as 
applicable, of any vehicle for which the cap is recommended. Attach the 
cap to the radiator or coolant reservoir, as applicable, of that 
vehicle in accordance with the manufacturer's installation procedure. 
Rotate the cap to the fully closed position. Purge air from the system.
    (2) Pressurize the radiator or coolant reservoir to any pressure 
not less than 14 kPa and not more than the maximum pressure rating of 
the cap as specified by the manufacturer.
    (3)(i) Radiator caps. While a force of not greater than 225 Newtons 
is being applied to the cap axially toward the radiator, perpendicular 
to the top surface of the cap, and a torque of not greater than 40 
Newton-meters is being applied to the cap in a counter-clockwise 
direction, attempt to remove the cap.
    (ii) Coolant reservoir caps. While a torque of up to 40 Newton-
meters is being applied to the cap in a counter-clockwise direction, 
attempt to remove the cap.
    (b) Venting.
    (1) Using water, fill the radiator or coolant reservoir system, as 
applicable, of any vehicle for which the cap is recommended. Attach the 
cap to the radiator or coolant reservoir, as applicable, of that 
vehicle in accordance with the manufacturer's installation procedure. 
Rotate the cap to the fully closed position. Purge air from the system.
    (2) Pressurize the radiator or coolant reservoir system to any 
pressure not less than 14kPa and not more than the maximum pressure 
rating of the cap.
    (3) Actuate the manually operated pressure release mechanism in 
accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
    S6.2 Motor vehicles-venting. Each motor vehicle cooling system that 
includes a means of reducing the system pressure by venting fluids is 
tested as specified in paragraphs (a) through (d) of S6.2.
    (a) Place the motor vehicle on a level surface.
    (b) Fill the vehicle's cooling system with water. Attach the 
vehicle's cap to the radiator or coolant reservoir for which it is 
intended and rotate the cap to the fully closed position. Purge air 
from the radiator system or the reservoir system.
    (c) Pressurize the system to any pressure at or above 14 kPa and 
below the maximum pressure rating of the cap as specified by the 
manufacturer.
    (d) Actuate each manually operated pressure release mechanism in 
accordance with the vehicle manufacturer's instructions.

    Issued on: May 25, 2001.
Stephen R. Kratzke,
Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.
[FR Doc. 01-13800 Filed 5-31-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-59-P