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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tire Recalls

I have seen a number of posts on various forums of complaints about what is believed to be a failure of a “defective” tire. What I have not seen is any mention of anyone having bothered to provide details and information on what the defect is and a statement that they send the data to the US Dept Of Transportation. I have to wonder why people think there might be some government action when there is no information going to the government complaining about what they feel is a defective tire.

You can review the current tire recall list from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration HERE.

NHTSA is the part of DOT that is responsible for collecting complaint information and doing the appropriate investigation. If there is data developed that would support some action such as a recall, NHTSA is the agency that can order the action. Before a tire might be recalled there is list of “complaints” accumulated and you can review that information HERE.

You file complaints HERE.

It is important to remember that just because someone may have had a tire failure and complained, that does not automatically mean there will be a recall. Many times there are contributing reasons for an individual tire to fail. Most of these contributing reasons are not part of a design or manufacturing trend which would affect a group of tires.

I can recount how my work as a Quality Investigation Engineer resulted in a recall of 4,900 tires when I discovered what was a manufacturing error. This sounds like a big number but in fact the data we assembled identified there were fewer than 150 tires total that had the problem. The reason the number grew is that tire recalls are done based on DOT serial, which as you know includes the week of production. So even though we were able to confirm the problem was caused by a single skid of material being used in the incorrect part of the tire, the entire weeks production had to be recalled. In this case none of the tires had made it to individual customers as the problem was discovered so quickly the tires were either in the warehouse or on vehicles still at dealer lots.

The reason I am telling you this is to show how the system works. A problem is discovered. An investigation is done. Sometimes by NHTSA based on the complaints received from the field and sometimes by the tire manufacturer with their in house quality department. If tires are to be recalled then the formal procedures and laws must be followed.

I have advised a number of people who complain about a tire failure that if they do not file a complaint there is no way there will be a recall or even an investigation. I do note there is a general tendency for many on some RV forums to brand all tire failures as being caused by “defective” tires but based on the pictures I have seen, I remember only one example of the failure that might have been caused by a design or manufacturing problem but since these failures were isolated to a single RV it is more likely the failures were service related.

Can I categorically state that there are currently no defective tires in the field? No I cannot.

However based on my experience of personally inspecting thousands of tires identified as "defective" by self proclaimed experts, the facts are that most tires fail because they are under inflated, overloaded, improperly repaired or suffered a road hazard, impact or even vandalism.

On a personal note I have to wonder why so many in the RV field are quick to blame a tire failure on the country of origin, tire manufacturer or complain when tires need replacing after many years of service and some abuse, while at the same time are willing to spend many tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on an RV that has such poor quality that no one is willing to stand behind or provide a 100% bumper to bumper warranty of the product design or manufacturing for more than a few months.

I have offered and continue to offer to do a detailed inspection of failed tires and to issue an un-bias report of my findings but too often the most I get is a slightly out of focus and improperly lit photo of the subject tire with no DOT serial and documented loading and service speeds.

I will be offering, in future posts to my blog, examples and information on impacts and road hazards with photographs showing sidewall "bubbles" as well as proof of the tire being damaged in service.

If you have questions about a suspect tire “defect” I will be happy to talk with you if you attend my Tire Basics for the RV Owner at FMCA Family Reunion in Madison, WI the end of August or the Gypsy Journal Rally in Celina, OH the end of Sept.


  1. That should be a great series. Thanks for your efforts.

  2. Off topic of your current post.

    An article or post would be appreciated about how much the tire pressure should rise from cold to when driving. Especially in warm or hot weather.

    Lots of us are using tire pressure monitors and are seeing PSI increases as we drive and wonder when we should get worried or perhaps increase our cold tire pressure (not to exceed max) if the PSI increase is to much.

    I'm kind of guessing the PSI increase is primarily based on the temperature of the tire.

    I made the suggestion based on this post and replies, including mine, on the Escapees RV forum.

  3. Al, Check out my newest post on Tire Temperatures. I can't post to Escapees thread but you are more than welcome to post a link there pointing to this blog.


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