Millions of tires made by some of the world’s largest tire manufacturers have been recalled due to dangerously defects that cause tread separation, which is the most common cause of a tire blowout. Such blowouts often cause serious single-vehicle accidents, such as a spinout or rollover, or multi-vehicle crashes. If you or someone you care about was injured in a tire blowout accident, contact a tire defect attorney right away – you may have a case to receive compensation from the tire manufacturer or retailer.
Underinflated tires cause the sidewall to flex more, which makes it more difficult to control the vehicle. Underinflation can also cause excessive heat buildup, shortening the life of the tire, and possibly leading to catastrophic failures like tread separation, a rim explosion or a tire blowout.
You can avoid this by conducting a quick tire inspection once a month. Look for:
- Cracking or cuts in the sidewalls;
- Uneven tread wear;
- Excessively worn tread;
- Bumps, bulges or blisters in the tread; and
- Excessive vibration while driving.
It is vital for car owners to maintain their tires’ air pressure levels at manufacturer standards, which are normally found on the driver’s doorjamb. 2008 or newer vehicles have a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that tell you when your tire pressure is low. Some vehicles may display the exact pressure in each tire on the dashboard display screen. Otherwise, you can buy an inexpensive tire-gauge at your local auto store, and use it once a month to ensure that your pressure is within the manufacturer’s recommendation. Be sure to measure tire pressure when the tires are cold, that is, they have not been driven in the preceding three hours.
Another advantage of keeping your tire pressure at the manufacturer’s recommendations is that it contributes to optimal fuel mileage.
It’s important to remember that even superior quality, well-maintained tires will erode over time. Rubber becomes more brittle as it ages, and even though you may have adequate tread depth, you should still buy new tires every five years or so.
How Tires are Made
Although tires seem solid, they contain several components, or layers:
- The bead is a rubber-coated loop of steel cable – this is the part that allows the tire to stay in place on the wheel.
- Belts are rubber-coated layers of steel, fiberglass and other materials. They are interwoven at angles to hole the tread and plies in place. They help prevent punctures and help the treads keep contact with the road.
- The tread is the part of the tire that rolls on the road, and includes grooves (the deep spaces between tread ribs) and sipes (treads within the treads).
- The shoulder connects the tread with the sidewall.
- The sidewall is the part marked with manufacturer information; it also protects the cord plies.
- The plies are rubber-coated cords that run across the tires to provide strength and damage resistance.
- The inner liner is the inside layer of a tubeless tire.
When a tire is made, the first step is blending the rubber and sending it to a mill where it is cut into strips that form the basic tire structure. Then, it is put together from the inside out: first the inner liner, then the bead, the plies, the belts, sidewall, shoulder, and finally, the tread. Once constructed, the tire is “vulcanized,” or cured with hot molds that compress all the parts together and give the tire its unique tread pattern and sidewall markings.
Steel-belted tires are the types of tires most likely to experience tread separation, usually due to problems in the manufacturing process that prevent the tread and steel belting to properly bond to the tire casing. Over time, the tread begins to separate from the body of the tire. Typically this happens with older tires and at higher speeds, but if there is a manufacturing defect, even brand new tires have been known to separate at speeds as low as 15 or 20 mph. Improper curing, moisture contamination, or adhesion defects are other causes of tread separation.
A 2003 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study tested the effect of an unexpected tread separation during a driving simulation model. When test subjects experienced a tread separation, they were highly likely to lose vehicle control. The likelihood increased with higher speeds, and when the failure occurred on a rear tire. And, the faster you are driving when you experience a tire failure, the more serious the outcome in terms of injury or death.
What is Involved in a Tire Blowout?
When a tire blows out due to tread separation, there is no “drag” as there would be with a deflated tire. If you’re traveling at a high speed, the slightest turn of the wheel could send your car into a spin and roll it over.
If you are ever in that situation, experts recommend driving straight forward until you slow down. Remain as calm as possible, and avoid jerking the steering wheel or slamming on the brakes, which cause your vehicle to spin or flip over. When your vehicle is almost stopped, gently ease it to the side of the road.
One of the most infamous tire recalls took place between 2000-2001, when Bridgestone/Firestone recalled over 23 million tires, many of which were on Ford Explorer SUVs. Explorers with the defective tires caused hundreds rollover accidents and other crashes that killed or seriously injured drivers, passengers and other motorists. One example is the Wilderness AT Firestone tire model: because Firestone did not use the proper adhesive materials, the belts were especially prone to tread separation.
SUVs are particularly prone to rollovers due to a higher center of gravity. The above-mentioned NTHSA study also found that when SUVs experience tread separation, there is a likelihood of an injury accident or fatal accident than other vehicles.
Defective tires that have caused crashes, personal injuries, and wrongful deaths were manufactured by companies around the globe. It’s important to note that tires manufactured on many countries, such as China, are not required to keep records of service failures.
The following is a partial list of tire brands have that have been recalled for dangerous defects:
Holding Tire Manufacturers Responsible
Personal injury or wrongful death cases involving defective tires deal with product liability law. As such, there is no burden of proof to show evidence that the manufacturer is guilty of negligence.
If the defect is in the design of the tire, all you need prove is that the design is dangerous, the defective design caused the tire to fail, tread separation, or other problem that caused you to lose control of the vehicle, and that you were injured or suffered property damage as a result of the tire’s defective design.
When a tire is defective because of faulty manufacture that makes the tire dangerous, all you need to prove to recover damages for your injuries and damages is that the tire was made in a defective manner and that if it had been properly manufactured, it would not have failed or blown out.
Preserving the Evidence
When a defective tire causes an accident injury or fatality, the tire itself is important evidence. It, or whatever is left of it, should be collected, preserved and examined by a tire or accident reconstruction expert to determine whether a defect was the accident cause. An experienced law firm right can help you with that.
PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS
If you have been injured or a loved one was killed because of a defective tire, contact TorkLaw as soon as possible to help you receive maximum monetary compensation for you and your passengers’ injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages. Call now 888.845.9696.