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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Why are “bad tires” on the road?

In my previous post on Chinese made tires, I clearly touched a nerve.

Now, before I proceed, I have to tell you that when I was working I had a bit of a reputation of sometimes being a bit abrupt and “in your face” with some people. So please keep that in mind as you read this post. It is definitely not my intent to offend anyone but I do sometimes get a bit frustrated.

While some felt I had provided a reasonable report on the topic when I suggested that quality is not a function of geography, others seemed to think there was some political conspiracy underway against RV owners. As proof that I was incorrect, it was suggested I would learn the truth about Chinese quality if I did a Google search or looked at some on-line forums and checked out some customer complaints.

What I did instead was to go to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration website and did a search for tire recalls to see which brands had recalls underway. I found over 200 tire brands in the current list with probably 1000 individual tire lines involved. Included in the list were BF Goodrich (owned by Michelin), Bridgestone, Continental, Firestone (owned by Bridgestone), General (owned by Continental), Goodyear, and Uniroyal (owned by Michelin). Each of these brands have a fair number of tires on the recall list. I did not see Mission brand, which is a specific brand identified by one person who contacted me about my post.

When I looked at the list of current investigation, I found most of the same names but again no Mission brand tires. I did find a single complaint from someone claiming that three of the “Mission Radial ST” tires on their passenger car had suffered tread separations. The complaint identified the tire manufacturer as GENERAL TIRE & RUBBER CO. This “complaint” is a good example of one of the major problems NHTSA faces. That being incomplete and inaccurate reports. The three failures were claimed to have occurred in Feb 2011 but the person didn’t bother to file a complaint till Jan 2012!. Since these were on a passenger car they should not be Mission brand ST type tires.

A review of other complaints shows that a significant portion of those filing complaints were more interested in reporting problems related to having a tire fail while on the road or concern for their dogs, than providing accurate data or even the most basic information related to the tires in question.

Examples of complaints:
A Goodyear brand tire complaint summary stated “A 2011 CHEVROLET CORVETTE GRAND SPORT EQUIPPED WITH GOODYEAR EAGLE F1 TIRES LINE SIZES P325/30Z R19 (REAR), DOT NUMBER: M6XE DBDR 3010 AND P275/35/Z R18 (FRONT), DOT NUMBER M652 DBDR 2810. THE CONTACT STATED THAT THE VEHICLE HYDRO PLANED DURING A RAIN STORM, CAUSING THE VEHICLE TO DRIVE INTO ANOTHER LANE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT TAKEN TO THE DEALER BUT THE MANUFACTURER WAS CONTACTED AND MADE AWARE OF THE FAILURE. THE VEHICLE WAS NOT REPAIRED. THE FAILURE AND CURRENT MILEAGES WERE 1,700” Do you think it possible the driver was traveling too fast for the conditions?

A Firestone brand tire DOT serial given as “DOT 522P P235/50R17” (size in this complaint listed elseware as a 23575R15) More info on DOT serials can be found here.

Here is a picture of a tire that has failed.

While I can’t be certain, as I only have the picture to go on, I am inclined to believe this may be the result of a manufacturing problem. If there are a number of tires with similar condition it may justify requiring the importer to replace the tires, maybe even for free or possibly with a different brand depending on the findings of the investigation.

HOWEVER there will never be an investigation if there are no complaints. Here is a link to the correct form.

If you have had a tire failure not due to puncture, valve or wheel failure, run low or overload then I challenge you to fill out the form with the FULL DOT serial, correct tire brand and correct tire size and Load Range information provided.

Here is the list of the information you need to collect before you start to fill out the form:

•Tire brand such as Big Round Tire Company
•Tire line such as Mud Wumper 4
•Size such as LT225/75R13 LR-D not 295-16 22 ply
•Component. Identify either Tread, belt, Sidewall or Bead
•Full DOT -- all 11 or 12 letters and numbers vehicle year, make and model
•Vehicle VIN

It does not have to be a “China Bomb”. It does not even have to be on your RV. But simply claiming you had a tire fail a couple years ago but can’t provide accurate information is of no value. I will keep an eye out and report back on just how many Mission brand tires are in the claims next week or so.

To those claiming that budget cuts prevent proper actions, don’t you think it would make it easier for regulators to get the funds they need if they had a number of accurate claims that needed investigation?

Okay, now I will get off my soap box.

5 comments:

  1. After reading several forums about tires and researching various resources on the web, it changed my opinion 180 degrees about the so called China bombs. I'm now convinced that the RV forum mentioned tire failures has a lot more to do with lack of proper tire care. Some of the key ingredients to premature tire failure are overloading, under inflation, age of tires and irregular tread wear. Anyone not routinely inspecting their vehicle’s tires is to blame for premature tire failure. Although I couldn’t prove it, I suspect very few failures were actually from a tire defect. There are some good websites, including ours, that provide the information that RV owners need to know. Sadly, there are so many RV forums that will not let their members know about us.

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  2. I love this in the fact that people are people...they will complain but never give enough information to allow others to help. I worked for IBM over 20+ years in the service area and this trait with how people complain has always fascinated me. I wish you luck in getting the right information to analysis if China or for that matter any other manufacturer has produced "bad" tires.

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  3. I held a job for several years taking "difficult and technical" phone calls. Regardless of education, location, or anything else, the people whose problems were difficult and/or technical had failed to read and follow instructions. I appreciate the effort you have put into your research; I'll take your word for it.

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  4. I am specifically speaking to tires on 5th wheels and travel trailers. I have not suffered a blowout yet, but I chose to replace my new China Bombs before I hit the road. My problem with "the human error" idea is, there should be a proportionally equal number of failures reported with the major tire manufacturers on these units as well. This simply does not seem to be the case. Most people purchase good quality tires after suffering catastrophic damage and the problem is resolved. They enjoy many mile of trouble free service.

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  5. I believe there is a proportional number of failures from others. The issue is that my information indicates that well over 90% of OE tires on 5vers are made in China and the size and load range only meet the absolute minimum capacity so logically 90% of failures would be on tires made in China.

    This would be much like saying Goodyear makes bad tires because 99% of the tire failures on Corvettes are Goodyears, which ignores the fact that 100% of OE tires are Goodyear.

    Most who buy "good quality" tires also upgrade size, load or speed capability and if they really care it might be that after making the investment they no longer are part of the 57% of 5ver owners with an overloaded tire.

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