What is Tread Separation?
Automotive tires have tread, which refers to the rubber part that touches the roadway and consists of grooves and notches. The depth or width of the tread notches affects the traction the tire has with the road. Over time, the tread begins to diminish, effectively decreasing the amount of air between the entire tire and the road.
There are different kind of tire tread separation. One is known as “belt separation,” which occurs when the two belts in a tire separate over time. The second instance occurs when separation extends beyond the belts, causing the tread to delaminate from the belt.
Both instances typically result in the tire falling apart, which can lead to serious automobile and truck accidents. If a tire’s inner steel belt separates from the rubber, it can cause a sudden loss of pressure, tire blowouts, rollovers and catastrophic injury. Common causes for tread separation include:
- Improper tire repair
- Poorly maintained roadways
- Reckless driving
- Excessive tire wear
- Manufacturing defects
- Design defects
As a tire begins to fail, drivers will sometimes notice a loss of control as in a pulling sensation. Product liability lawsuits arise when tire defects cause a tread separation leading to a complete loss of control of the vehicle and a vehicle accident and catastrophic injuries.
- Defective tires can result in the driver losing control of his or her vehicle when he does not expect it.
- Incorrect placement of the belts and overlying tread for the tires, causing tread loss to occur more quickly.
- Failure of the metal tire frame to stick to the rubber is the leading cause of belt separation, thus leading to lower tread.
Cracks in the side walls of tires is a well recognized hazard and known to lead to air loss and tire failure, which can cause rollovers or otherwise cause loss of control leading to collisions with other cars or obstacles. Cracking side walls are a danger to motorists and roadside individuals, and consumers should take caution.
Defective Tires & Truck Accidents
Defective truck tires are more likely to blow out or result in a Defective Tire Treads incident. When a truck tire is defective, its performance is unpredictable, and even with frequent truck maintenance a deadly accident is possible.
When a defective truck tire fails, the material failure may send dangerous debris into the roadway, entangle with a car or truck’s wheel, and possibly lead to high-speed collisions, rollovers and serious injuries.
Almost every major American truck tire manufacturer has had several recalls of a product that greatly increases the risk of road accidents. Tire producers such as Bridgestone-Firestone, Michelin, Dunlop, Uniroyal, Goodyear, Cooper Tire and Continental have all recalled millions of tires for defects that pose road safety hazards.
When large commercial trucks experience a tire blowout, the driver may lose control of his rig, or the tire debris can cause other motorists to swerve and cause serious auto accidents.
Following a truck tire blow out and accident where you suspect there was a defective product involved, or simply have questions about what may have happened, you should contact and experienced product liability lawyer to investigate the matter.
Tire Defects & Recalls
Each year, millions of car and truck tires are recalled in the United States, due to defective design or manufacturing errors, which can lead to tread separation. There have also been notable mass-scale tire recalls due to defects that cause blowouts, Tire malfunction and serious road accidents. Commercial truck and auto accidents are particularly fatal, with around 4,000 motorists killed in large truck accidents in the United States each year.
Tire recalls have been announced by the world’s largest tire producers, including Bridgestone-Firestone, Cooper Tire, Goodyear, Michelin, Uniroyal, Continental and Dunlop. These recalls have been issued for a number of safety concerns that include tires with a tendency to crack and split, and tread separation.
Almost every month there are a new batch of tires added to a national recall list, overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Tire manufacturers have a moral and legal responsibility to notify consumers of dangerous defects with their products. In some cases however, manufacturers fail to initiate a recall until after accidents and injuries occur, or after lawsuits are filed against the company.
Auto tires are manufactured by layering rubber materials on a wire and cording framework. When the design is defective, or the adhesive is ineffective, the treads separate and tires fail rapidly.
Tires are generally not made by the manufacturer of the car or truck, and they are often replaced over the course of a car’s life. Therefore, fault may lie on the both the manufacturer of the tire and at times the auto shop that installed the tires. It is important to consider all parties that played a role in placing the tire on the car or truck and any party that inspected the tire prior to the accident.
Several tire recalls have lead to product liability and injury lawsuits when defects result in tire blowouts, sidewall failure, and tire failure accidents. Faulty tire design and negligent manufacturing has affected many of the major tire suppliers in the U.S., including:
Yokohama Tire Recall
The Yokohama Tire Corporation announced that it is recalling its Yokohama RY023 tires, size 295/75R22.5 (14G) with DOT date code 2318. The company says the rubber compound may be incorrect, possibly resulting in tread separation from the casing, and potential accidents.
The Yokohama tires fail to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) requirements, and may lead to loss of vehicle control and crash. The recall began November 28, 2018. Owners may contact aTire malfunction to discuss any injury related to recalled Yokohama tires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website listed several recalls related to Yokohama tires, including:
- Avid Touring S Tires: tires recalled for cracking and air loss.
- RY023: the rubber compound used could degrade due to overall durability.
- RY215: missing DOT data information regarding load and inflation information
- RY587, RY617, and TY517: tired missing rubber compound specification
Kelly Tire Recall
In March, 2018, Sumitomo Rubber USA, LLC recalled certain Kelly Armorsteel KDA tires, size 11R22.5 Load Range G, manufactured in December, 2016. The recall was warranted because the tire sidewalls are missing information—they are not marked with the tire size, maximum load rate, speed restriction, number of plies, the descriptor “tubeless,” and the load range information. As a result, the tires fail to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard requirements.
The missing information is a serious safety concern, particularly the missing maximum load rate. The tires may be overloaded, increasing the risk of a tire-related accident. Tire blowouts are frequently the result of over or underinflating tires on cars and large commercial vehicles.
Cooper Tire Recall
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has recently recalled over 41,000 tires for possible belt separation. The tires were manufactured with an improper belt rubber compound that may result in poor adhesion, and a risk to motorists.
TheTire malfunction affect tires manufactured at the Cooper supplier plant in Mexico according to the NHTSA’s defect report. Some of the tires could have a visibly defective tread, and others may have a detectably rough ride when put into service. The affected tires are:
- Cooper Cobra Radial G/T tires
- Cornell 1000 tires
- El Dorado Golden Fury GFT tires
- Futura GLS Super Sport tries
- Mastercraft Avenger G/T tires
- Mastercraft MC-440 tires
- Starfire RS-C 2.0 tires
- Starfire SF-340 tires
- Cooper Trendsetter SE tires
- Mastercraft A/S IV tires
- Vanderbilt Turbo-Tech G/T Radial tires
Bridgestone-Firestone Recalls Thousands of Tires
In 2016, more than 36,000 tractor-trailer truck tires were recalled by Bridgestone-Firestone due to safety concerns after safety tests revealed that the tire treads can separate from the body, causing the tires to fail. The Firestone Tire recall states that this tire failure can cause a sudden loss of air pressure and greatly increase the risk of a crash.
Bridgestone released a statement saying affected tires may lose pressure from a crack at the inner liner splice. These cracks could penetrate into the sidewall, resulting in a bulge and cause tire deflation and subsequent tire failure. The recalled tires are Firestone FS561 commercial truck tires manufactured between January, 2015 and January, 2016.
Bridgestone-Firestone Tire issued another recall in 2016, recalling Firestone FR710 tires, and Champion Fuel Fighter tires, manufactured from March, 2016 to April, 2016.
Bridgestone-Firestone has also recalled their Steelex tire line in the past because of a potential tread separation defect that the company says “can possibly lead to a vehicle crash, resulting in serious injury.”
The tires allegedly had the same type of defect that led to the massive recall of Firestone Wilderness tires used on popular SUV models. Around 13 million tires were involved in the Firestone tire recall because they were feared to have been linked to dozens of road accidents and fatalities.
Michelin Tire Recalls
In 2015, Michelin North America Inc. recalled around 104,000 BF Goodrich tires used for light trucks and recreational vehicles because the sidewalls were likely to rupture under certain conditions.
In 2012, Michelin North America recalled Michelin LTX M/S tires, manufactured from January, 2010 through June, 2012. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that the Michelin tire defects were used on certain Ford vehicles, commercial light trucks, full-sized heavy duty vans, small recreational vehicles, and some large pickup trucks.
Defective Tire Lawsuits & Settlements
- Continental Tire recently settled a tread separation case involving a Continental Contritrac TR tire in which the right rear tire suffered a tread separation and caused the vehicle to lose control and roll over. Two occupants were injured and two were killed in the accident.
- Honda and Pirelli settled a tire valve failure case involving a 2007 Honda Goldwing GL 1800 motorcycle and Metzeler ME 880 Marathon motorcycle tire. In the accident, the rear wheel of the victim’s motorcycle seized up, causing the motorcycle to wobble and the plaintiff to lose control. The motorcycle crashed and the plaintiff suffered severe and permanent physical injuries, including facial fractures, lung contusion, brain hemorrhage, frontal lobe contusion and a traumatic brain injury.
- A jury rewarded a plaintiff in a tire tread separation case involving a Hankook Aurora TH08 radial tire because the tire failed on a cement truck and crashed. The tire’s structural integrity failed and the tread and outer steel belts of the tire separated, causing the truck to roll and led to the driver’s permanent physical, mental, and emotional injury.
- Michelin and Ford settled a tire tread separation lawsuit after a 2009 Ford Econoline fitted with Michelin LTX M&S LT245/75R16 tires crashed. The tire tread separated from the right rear tire of the vehicle, and led to a fatal accident.
- Goodyear settled a tire tread separation case involving a Goodyear G670 RV tire, which failed and rapidly deflated, causing the motor home to collide with a concrete barrier, and injured all occupants. The driver died of the resulting injury.
- Michelin: When a Georgia man was killed in a fatal accident caused by a defective tire, a jury awarded his family $5 million. The court determined the tire made by Michelin North America was defectively designed and primarily responsible for the fatal accident. According to testimony, a tire blowout caused the vehicle to strike the median guardrail and flip over. The jury found that Michelin North America was 80 percent responsible. The court awarded $5 million for the wrongful death, and ordered Michelin North America to pay $11.5 million in punitive damages.
- Michelin: In Texas, a jury awarded a 12-year-old boy $12 million for injuries suffered in an auto accident caused by a tire tread separation of a Michelin tire. The tire failure caused the vehicle to lose control and ended in a head-on collision. Six others were killed, and the child was paralyzed.
- Michelin: In 2011, a lawsuit was filed against Michelin after an Arizona woman was driving when the left rear Michelin tire experienced a tread separation failure. The vehicle rolled over and the woman sustained a serious spinal injury. Her attorneys stated that Michelin knew of the specific tire’s “inadequacies,” but chose not to warn consumers.
Goodyear Tire Accidents & Fatalities
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating reports that Goodyear tire models may have caused at least 95 injuries or deaths dating back to the 1990s.
The road safety agency has identified the Goodyear tire model G159 specifically, produced from 1996 through 2003. The NHTSA has requested company data related to field performance, safety and design from the Akron, Ohio tire manufacturer.
Around 40,000 tires are part of the investigation, which was spurred by previously sealed documents unsealed by a court. Early investigation has revealed allegations that the tire’s failure rate was about 10 to 27 times worse than that of other similar tires determined as defective by the NHTSA.
Statements made by Goodyear employees indicate they cannot identify another Goodyear tire with the same failure rate as the G159. After Goodyear Tire accidents, the company itself denied responsibility and identified tire under-inflation, driver error, overloaded motor homes, extreme temperatures and road debris as the causes of tire blowouts that led to serious accidents.
Attorneys contend that Goodyear’s legal tactics have kept a lid on this crucial safety information and their tires are still on the roads. Confidential settlements have contributed to a lack of information about the Goodyear tire accidents.
Goodyear – G159
Reports of G159 Goodyear tire failure date back to the 1990s, but many documents and claims made by victims were sealed as part of Goodyear settlement efforts.
Goodyear has said in statements that the tire in question was designed only for pickup or delivery trucks in commercial service. Albeit, the tire also fit RVs and motor homes, and companies like Fleetwood and Monaco used the tires on their motor homes.
Goodyear started receiving reports of Defective Tire Treads, tire blowouts and accidents. Plaintiffs argue the G159 Goodyear tire was not designed for extended use at highway speeds and motor home operation.
Allegations on the legal front contend that the faulty Goodyear tire resulted in two injury claims in 1998, four in 1999, six in 2000, eight in 2001, eighteen in 2002 and 57 from 2003 through 2015. The current public outcry is justified if Goodyear used secret settlements for two decades to hide information about a dangerous product. It is unknown how many G159 RV tires are still in use.
The NHTSA has raised questions about whether Goodyear failed to report all death and injury claims to the NHTSA, as by law many of the claims were not required to be reported.
IF YOU EXPERIENCE A TIRE FAILURE ACCIDENT:
Following a road accident resulting from a a tire blowout, victims should contact an experienced lawyer to investigate. Joe Lyon is an experienced Ohio personal injury and product liability attorney.
- Allow the tires or pieces of the tire be destroyed. This evidence must be preserved.
- Allow the car, and any other vehicle if possible, to be destroyed. This evidence must be preserved.
- Remove any social media postings.
- Make any statements to insurance companies or automotive company private investigators without first speaking with a qualified attorney.
Defective product litigation and tire defect lawsuits can be expensive and complex. The attorney will need to prove the case through expert testimony. Product liability cases can be some of the most expensive types of litigation, but the cases should be evaluated carefully to determine if a recalled tire or a tire defect caused the catastrophic injury.