Over the years, we, at Terrell • Hogan, have emphasized the dangers of defective tires to consumers and their families. And, we’ve addressed how to check your tires for safety. (Be Aware of Your Aging Tires!). Since then, our law firm has highlighted recalls of dangerous tires and defective tire valves.
This has become a rerun American consumers are tired of watching. It seems to take injury and wrongful death lawsuits to get the attention of tire and automobile manufacturers. The tragedies surrounding defective tires need to stop and this week the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) has stated that our system for tire registration and regulation fails to do the job and has ordered mandatory tire registration. Basing their decision on evidence that at least 500 crash deaths a year are linked to defective tires. NTSB Passenger Tire Safety Report Cites Deficiencies in Registration and Recall System; Highlights Tire Aging and Maintenance
Tire recalls are difficult to facilitate and there are many problems in getting the word out — independent tire dealers are not required to register tires for buyers therefore tire makers can’t contact the owners if their tires are defective and need to be recalled. The NTSB investigation revealed that very few tires are actually registered for recall purposes. From 2009 to 2013, 3.2 million defective tires were recalled, but only 44 percent – less than half, were replaced.
The NTSB has called for a “computerized system for capturing, storing, and uploading tire registration information would expedite the tire registration process, reduce transcription errors, and encourage more dealers to register tires at the point of sale.” It also has instructed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require the registration of all replacement tires and wants tire manufacturers to put tire recall information on their websites that consumers can search for their tire by tire identification number.
The NTSB also suggested that “modifying the tire registration form to include fields for the purchaser’s email address, telephone number and vehicle identification number would provide additional means by which tire manufacturers could notify tire owners of recalls and recover more recalled tires that would otherwise continue in use.”
Tires should be required to have a complete tire identification number “on both sides of a tire that would help consumers to accurately identify a recalled tire and to conduct maintenance as necessary and appropriate to the tire.” Because it is difficult for consumers to identify whether their tire is recalled, tire recalls often bring repairs or replacement of only 20 percent of the recalled tires compared with 75 percent for most vehicle recalls.
Another major issue is tire aging. Tires break down over time and most people do not understand what that means. Tread may look in good shape, but as the tires get old, there can be problems such as tread separation.
NTSB said in 2013 there were 33,000 crashes linked to tire failures that led to 18,000 injuries and 539 deaths. Last year, NTSB identified a deadly SUV crash was caused by a faulty recalled tire that was never replaced. The owner was never notified.
Safety experts at NHTSA recommend that tires should be replaced after six years, regardless of wear. Every tire has a DOT code on its sidewall, and the last three digits of this code represent the week of the year followed by the last digit of the year in which it was manufactured. (So if the last three digits are 436, that means the tire was manufactured in the 43rd week of 2006.)
Consumers should also remember:
• To keep tires properly inflated. Tires can slowly lose air pressure through the rubber and through seasonal temperature changes;
• Rotate your tires regularly to help ensure more uniform wear for all tires on your vehicle; and
• Regularly inspect your tires for bulges, blisters and cracks.
Every day, we at Terrell • Hogan, represent victims of personal injury and wrongful death as they seek justice, and the lawsuits we have pursued have resulted in safety changes. Unfortunately, those changes came after the accidents and injuries happened. We believe it is vital to try to help prevent injuries and deaths. That’s why we will continue to repeat recalls and share information about defective and dangerous products.
Danger on Wheels? Feds Say Tire Recall System ‘Completely Broken’