Are Your Tires Safe?

Americans drive three trillion miles a year, every inch in reliance on their tires. Nobody thinks much about their tires — you fill them up with air, change them when they are flat, rotate them, and replace them when you can see all of Lincoln’s head on a penny. Even the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration doesn’t tell consumers and owners of cars, SUVs, passenger van, or trucks to do much other than regularly check tire pressure and follow basic maintenance like balancing and alignment.

But there’s so much more to tire safety — much of it unknown to the public. Tires are much more prone to detreading, delaminating, and blowouts than the tire manufacturers admit. Defective tires, without any fault on the part of the driver or owner of the car, cause thousands of motor vehicle accidents every year, many of them resulting in catastrophic injuries. Tire failure problems are magnified in vehicles with a high center of gravity, such as an SUV, truck, or passenger van, because the loss of control a tire failure creates is harder to manage in those vehicles.

If you or someone you love was in a serious accident involving a tire failure, then you need to do one important thing right now: make sure the tires and the vehicle are preserved. Call your insurance company. Call the police investigating the case. Call the towing service that took the vehicle. Call the junkyard. Whoever it is, call them and make sure they keep the tire and the vehicle intact. Do not let the vehicle or tires be sold or destroyed.

We are too often contacted by people who had a loved one seriously injured or killed in an accident that sounds like a tire failure, or which the police or state troopers have already said was a tire failure — but if we don’t have the tire itself, we won’t be able to prove what really happened. If you hire us or hire another law firm, you are going to need those tires, and you are going to have to make sure the vehicle, too, hasn’t been sold off or demolished.

Take action now to preserve that evidence, because you can be quite sure the insurance companies, the tire companies, and the car companies aren’t going to do it for you.

Tire defects are due to perhaps most commonly, ineffective adhesion, usually as a result of the glue’s age or poor bonding of tire components during the manufacturing process. When tires are being made, moisture, impurities, and other foreign materials are capable of entering the mix and get cured into the tire. Tire manufacturers have known about these types of problems for years, but have failed to correct them, or to use better designs less prone to failure, like improving skin stock, which can better bond rubber to the steel.

Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Toyota all say that tires should be changed every six years, but the tire manufacturers still give consumers the dangerous misimpression that tires can last ten years, and then go out of their way to make it difficult for consumers to know the ages of their own tires.

Most times, when a tire fails on the road, the people in the car are scared, and maybe the car sustains some damage, but they survive, deal with the insurance company, and move on. Other times, however, a tire separation can be life-altering or fatal: for example, accident testing shows that a rear tire failure at high speed (like on the interstate) is virtually impossible to control. As the NHTSA found in simulations of tire separations, even a driver who knows they’re going to experience a tread separation usually can’t control their vehicle when it happens, particularly if the tread separation involves one of the rear tires. People believe they can handle it when a tire goes out, until it happens to them — and that’s when the tire company needs to be held accountable for causing the crash.

For a free consultation on any case involving personal injury, contact our firm.