Defective Tires May Endanger Your Family’s Lives

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When you set out on a fall weekend trip or are taking your kids to their first day of school, you are likely to be concerned with everything from whether the kids have packed their lunch to your estimated time of arrival. Speaking plainly, you have at least a thousand different tasks and considerations running through your head that must be completed before your family can set out. With such fierce competition for your time and attention, it is no wonder that many people fail to consider the safety of their tires regularly. However, your tires could potentially be defective or develop problems due to a defect that places your health and safety in peril.

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Perhaps due to confirmation bias, we often fail to consider that the tires our vehicle is equipped with may have been defectively manufactured or designed. Shockingly this mindset is despite the massive Firestone tire recalls of the early 2000s where Firestone recalled roughly 2.8 million defective Firestone Wilderness AT tires. However, of those 2.8 million tires that were recalled, only about 90,000 were confirmed to be removed from use or sale. Perhaps underscoring the problems presented by our current tire recall system, Channel 2 WSB purchased the same Firestone tires that were recalled in 2000 at a used tire shop in Georgia in 2013.

Owners of cars, trucks and SUVs should not only inspect their vehicle’s tires for obvious signs of wear or other defects, but they should also, ideally, scour the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website for notices of tire recalls that may impact their family’s safety. Furthermore, before you purchase a new or used tire, ensure that the tire has not been recalled or otherwise affected by a safety advisory. A recent tire recall by the Cooper Tire Company provides just one example of a tire that has recently been discovered to be defective and should serve as a wake-up call for motorists, retailers and mechanics.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. Tires Recalled for Endurance Defects

Cooper has announced an August 2014 recall impacting Wild Country radial XTX Sport tires. The impacted tires were produced between June 1, 2014 and June 28, 2014. The company states that these tires fail to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 139 which governs “new pneumatic radial tires for light vehicles”. These tires have been reported to experience cracking and broken ply cords in the lower tire sidewall. Tire failure can lead to catastrophic injuries like a traumatic brain injury or even death. It is estimated that nearly 1,500 units are affected by the defect and recall.

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Cooper has stated that the company will notify owners who are affected by the defect. However as the Firestone recall of the 2000s has made clear, motorists must be proactive in protecting their safety. If you have Cooper tires but have not received a recall notice, you should inquire as to whether your particular tires are faulty by providing the manufacturer with the tire TIN code.

Millions of Defective Tires May Remain on Store Shelves and U.S. Roadways

According to a May report by ABC News, in 2014, there is no way for consumers to search for defective tires by the Department of Transportation’s tire identification number (TIN) to see if their car, truck or SUV tires have been recalled. This makes it much more difficult for owners to determine if their particular model is defective. According to safety consultant Sean Kane who was interviewed for the ABC article, “When you go to a tire shop today and you have your tires inspected there is no way that shop can examine the tire at a glance and determine whether it’s part of a recall.”

Instead, a shop owner or vehicle owner must first decode the 11 or 12 digit TIN provided by the DOT. The basics for decoding the TIN include:

  • The first 7 or 8 digits include information regarding the tire’s place of manufacture, tire size and other physical information about the tire.
  • The last four digits are the tire’s date code. The first two digits represent the numbered week the tire was manufactured. The second two digits are the year it was manufactured.

For instance, if the last four digits of the TIN were 2214, then the tired would have been manufactured during the 22nd week of 2014. Meaning that this tire was likely manufactured at the very end of May or at the beginning of June.

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The problem is that many shops are unable or unwilling to take the time to look and decipher the tire codes for each vehicle that comes in. Even if mechanics, dealers and other businesses were able to record the tire code for each tire on a vehicle, it still would be unable to perform a recall search quickly and efficiently. Rather the searcher would only be able to query by tire make and model. Once the make and model were entered, the search her would likely be required to download and open one or more PDF documents regarding the recall to see if their tire was included. This time consuming and frustrating process would apply equally to the owner of the tires.

However, the NHTSA emphasizes that it offers multiple ways for individuals to be informed of recalls. It has stated that consumers can search for tire recalls on its website http://safercar.gov. The agency also notes that consumers may receive updates by following or friending the agency’s official accounts on Twitter or Facebook, respectively. Finally, the agency also revealed that it plans to offer a mobile app that will alert Android and iPhone users of tire recalls and allow users to submit complaints to the agency. However, a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association has indicated that the group believes that a recall database that is searchable by TIN number is “something worthy of discussion” and that may improve a system that is “certainly imperfect and needs improvement.”

Put our Defective Product Experience to Work for You

If you have already been seriously injured due to a defective product like car, truck or SUV tires you may be entitled to compensation for your severe injuries or your loved one’s wrongful death. For more than 34 years the attorneys of The Reiff Law Firm have stood up for injured people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule your free and confidential legal consultation, contact The Reiff Law Firm by calling (215) 246-9000 or contact us online.

 

Sources:

ABC News Report — Recall Roulette: Are You Driving on a Defective Tire?

NHTSA Recall Notice to Owners

WSB Investigation — Channel 2 investigation finds recalled tires for sale

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