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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tire Failure because "Made in xxxxx"

In my training class for tire engineers and technicians, a concept I feel is important is discovering the "Root Cause" or real reason for the failure. There is difference between reporting or simply stating the condition of a tire such as "a Blowout" and the reason for the condition. If you don't understand the underlying reason for the tire's condition or what initiated the series of events that led to the failure, then the corrective action you take, may not prevent another failure.
If we are confronted with a tire that looks like this
many would simply say "we had a blowout". If they then read the information on the tire sidewall that says "Made in xxxxx"  or if they read the DOT serial and used the information on THIS website to learn where the manufacturing plant was located they might simply claim the tire failed because it was made in country xyz. They then simply jump to the conclusion that the way to prevent having a similar failure in the future would be to only buy tires not made in the same country the failed tire was from. They might feel better but in all probability they will not have taken the appropriate action to lessen the chance of having another failure as the country of origin in itself, is no more likely to have "caused" the failure than would the fact that the tire plant was painted blue rather than green.

Lets step back and look for physical evidence for the real reason or "Root Cause" for the failure. A simple trick is to ask WHY? at least 5 times. Here is how it works in the case of this failure.
1. Why did the tire fail? Answers might be the sidewall shredded or the tread and belts came off or there is a large bulge in the sidewall or because there is a nail or other puncturing object in it etc. Each of these answers would generate a different 2nd question
2. Why did the sidewall shred? Answers might be: Possibly hit a pot hole or tire was driven on after it lost air.
3. Why can you know if you drove on it after it lost air? Answer It would have melted body cord or fatigued steel body cord
4. Why did you drive on the tire after it lost air?  Answer might be: I didn't know it was leaking
5. Why did the tire leak? or Why didn't you know the tire had lost air?  Answer might be: The valve failed or I had no Tire Pressure Monitor System.
Now you have enough information to take the appropriate action as simply changing brands of tires will not stop the valve from leaking or give you warning of an air loss due to puncture in the future.

Now to help you out with understanding what evidence can help you ask the correct questions I will offer a few examples of various conditions.

Tire puncture large and obvious

Tire puncture small and hard to find

Melted polyester body cord only occurs when tire structure temperature exceeds 375° F

Steel body ply fatigues along the line of greatest bending sometimes resulting in a "zipper"

Steel fails (think paper clip) when bent back and forth more than it was designed to for many cycles. You can see this "necking" with a low level magnifying glass.

I hope this helps you understand that it is very difficult to stand back 10 feet and look at a tire and know why it really failed. I also hope that you have a better appreciation for the fact that if you don't investigate and learn the real reason for the failure simply changing the tire brand may not prevent another occurrence.

Bottom Line
If you have a failure you need to preserve as much of the evidence as possible so either you or the tire dealer you work with can do a more thorough "autopsy" to learn the real reason for the failure. If the tire is under warranty, the dealer or manufacturer will want to be able to examine the failed tire. It is unrealistic to expect compensation for a failed tire without you being able to provide the evidence of the failure. The major manufacturers have teams of engineers who's job it is is to inspect failed tires so appropriate action can be taken. This is why I suggest that you buy your tires from a large tire company with thousands of stores rather than buy the cheapest tire you can find at "Billy-Jo-Bob's Bate Shop & Cheap Tire Emporium" .


  1. Thanks!
    After two 0909 BFG Commercial T/A Tires failed on my RV within a "day" of travel and 400 miles, I sent the second tire (I sent you a photo)which failed catastrophically to BFG and they said the failure was "run flat" related and denied my claim. The tire was fine and fully aired when I checked it that morning (after 3 weeks in the campsite)and it failed within 2 hours on the road. Replacement Tire on that wheel and valve has not lost air. To me that was too much of a coincidence and coupled with the recall of my newest BFG Tire I really was surprised they wouldn't compensate me at all when probably the most likely cause was some tread delamination. That tire was the rear drivers side so it had 4 tires in "front" of it.
    But without proof....

  2. Just because it was fully inflated 2 hours before the failure does not mean you didn't drive on it after it lost air. It only takes a mile or so to shred a tire that has lost 50 to 80% of its air and it doesn't take much time to deflate a running tire.

    Without actually having the tire to examine it is difficult to confirm or refute the BFG reply. The pictures are not high enough resolution and only show one sidewall. Take a look at some of the posts with "failure" as a label and you will see that many times a close up is needed to confirm or deny a claim.
    Sorry I can't provide more info.

    If you had a TPMS you would have been able to report that there was no warning of any loss of air prior to the failure.

    You do realize that more rear tires fail due to cut or puncture than front tires.

  3. Hi Roger,
    First of all I want to let you know I enjoy your interesting articles on tires and tire safety.
    As a retired professional longhaul/construction driver of 38 years, I appreciate this critical piece of equipment.

    My question is about dents in the sidewalls. My car haul trailer that I tow behind my coach has three of four tires that have noticeable sidewall dents. I asked the trailer manufacturer who had his tire shop inspect them and their evaluation was that it was just the steel belts seam. Is this accurate and will it cause a tire failure at highway speeds which is most of my travel?
    Look forward to your expert opinion.

    Best regards,

  4. John.
    Quick answer to put your concerns at rest. Splices are where there can be an extra layer of cord. This means the loads on the cords are lower so they stretch less. Most of the tire stretches a littel when inflated but the area with extra cord does not stretch as much so it looks like a dent or depression. A bulge out over a small area of 1/2" to a couple of inches is of concern and MUST be inspected ASAP as you can be looking at a potential blowout.
    I will do a post on this as soon as I can come up with appropriate pictures.

    1. Hi Roger,
      I will take some pictures of my tires and send them to you if it will be helpful.
      Please let me know where to send them.

      Best Rrgards,

    2. John. My email is given at end of paragraph under my picture.

  5. Roger, thank you for the article and your expertise. We recently had a tire blowout 10 miles from our house en route to a camping spot. It was upsetting to say the least. Our fifth wheel endured damage and is in the shop. I've been trying to read everything on blowouts and the cause and can only surmise that there was an air leak as your mentioned in a reply to another person here. We have the TST TPMS system and I had just looked at it before the tire failed. We too had checked the air before leaving. These tires were manufactured May of 2010. After putting on the spare, we went straight to the tire shop and replaced all of them. They said all were bad but the spare, so age had to have been a factor. I notice that you always focus on tire failure causes that always seem to be something other than where it's made and what type ST vs LT. It's so hard to determine what's the best tire with so many amateurs piping in. Our fifth wheel came standard with ST tires and the dealership and tire shop said our Towmax tires are good tires. My only choice is to listen to those experts. Am I on the right track or do I listen to all the so called experts telling me to replace with LT and ribbed, made in the USA? I am asking you, the real expert. Thanks! Renee G

    1. Renee
      It sounds like rather than a sidewall "blowout where all that was left on the wheel were parts of the sidewall, you had a tread separation. Check out the post on "Blowout Real Life to learn more. I think you may have had a tread/belt separation that comes from long term heat and sometimes just age.
      RE what is a good tire. I would ask your dealer if they offer a multi year warranty that includes road hazard too. If they don't offer such then I do have to question how good they really think their tires are.
      For trailer application the "age" limit is shorter than for Motorhomes.5 years seems to be the limit for multi axle trailers with ST type tires but only that long if you always run the pressure on the tire sidewall and never exceed the 65 mph max speed for those tires and have confirmed you are running less than 90% of the Max load on each tire.
      You can email me directly My address is posted under my picture on the right.


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