Defective Tires and Blowouts

When defective tires fail, people get killed

A defective tire can cause a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle, which can result in a rollover or other serious motor vehicle accident. When a tire defect causes an injury accident, the accident victims may be entitled to compensation from the tire manufacturer, distributor or other parties. An experienced car accident attorney can determine whether you have a defective product case as well as which parties may be legally liable for your injuries.

Common Tire Defects

Tire defects can be caused by:

  • Poor design
  • Faulty materials
  • Improper storage
  • Manufacturing or production flaws

Some of the most common tire defects include:

  • Detreading, also known as tread separation — this occurs when the outermost tread suddenly separates from the tread underneath it, which can cause a vehicle to roll over
  • Blow out — tires can burst when a vehicle is moving, causing a sudden loss of control
  • Explosion — sometimes when a tire sealant has been used to fix a leak, the tire explodes as it’s being changed, which can cause serious injury to anyone nearby
  • Faulty valve stems — a crack in a tire’s valve stem can cause rapid loss of air, which, at highway speeds, can result in tire failure and loss of control

If you believe a tire defect may be to blame for your injury accident, contact a qualified car accident lawyer today to learn about your rights.

Preventing Tire Failure

In addition to keeping up with routine vehicle maintenance, drivers can periodically inspect their tires for visual defects, such as:

  • Sidewall cracking
  • Uneven wear
  • Bulges in the sidewall
  • Severe wear

If you notice any of the above issues, you should have the tire inspected by a qualified mechanic to determine if it needs to be repaired or replaced. Continuing to drive on a defective tire increases your risk of being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident.

Tire Recalls

Recalls have become part of the tire industry’s history in the United States. Consider the timeline:

  • 1974 – B.F. Goodrich recalled 1 million tires because of improper inflation and installation.
  • 1976 – Kelly-Springfield recalled 300,000 tires because of tread separation.
  • 1979 – General Tire recalled 187,000 tires because of exposed belt wire.
  • 1980 – Uniroyal recalled nearly 2 million tires because of tread separation.
  • 1988 – Cooper Tire & Rubber recalled more than 156,000 tires because of bead flaw.
  • 1998 – Kelly-Springfield recalled more than 500,000 tires because of sidewall cracking.

The largest recall, however, came in 1978 when Firestone recalled 14.5 million tires—the largest tire recall in history. The tires had an excess of adhesive that binds together the rubber and steel, which caused more than 500 tread separations and blowouts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ultimately fined Firestone $500,000 for concealing safety problems.

The recall also weakened Firestone’s financial standing, resulting in the merger in 1990 with Bridgestone USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Bridgestone Corporation. Bridgestone helped restore Firestone to profitability, but problems persisted.

On August 9, 2000 Firestone announced the recall of 6.5 million tires –the second-largest tire recall in U.S. history – in response to complaints the tires may be linked to fatal crashes involving sport utility vehicles. That recall later was expanded.

However, a recall of the tires doesn’t mean they are no longer in circulation. In November 2013, more than a decade after Firestone’s recall in 2000, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported that a station employee purchased a tire sold as new that actually was part of Firestone’s recall in 2000.

The NHTSA maintains a web page, Recalls & Defects consumers can use to search for recalls or file a complaint.