NHTSA is the government agency charged with the responsibility of writing and enforcing the regulations necessary to achieve improved safety of vehicle systems and equipment. However they cannot order or even suggest that a vehicle or component be recalled without facts and data being collected and analyzed.
A while ago I worked with a reader of my RV Tire blog, John B., who understood the necessity of providing the information NHTSA needs. He had suffered three tire failures. Luckily he discovered the failures before the tires had complete detachments. In his case there was no loss of air and no flailing of tire pieces. What he did have was a tire that was no longer round or having a uniform tread contour.
Now lets be sure we all have the same understanding of the terms. In this case a "Detachment" would be when a part of the tread or tread & belt package came apart from the rest of the tire. This type of failure can result in damage to the RV as pieces flail around hitting fenders and the side and undercarriage of the RV.
John wanted to file a complaint with NHTSA and he wanted to be sure his complaints would be useful to the engineers. He understood that partial or incorrect information would result in no investigation and with no investigation there was no possibility of any action being taken to remove "crappy" tires from use. So John contact me and I walked him through the process of collecting all the details needed. He also wanted to dissect his tire so he could ship the important parts to me for further examination.
When I received the sample I first cut the tread in the locations John had identified but found no serious issues.
I then called upon my 40 years of experience and took the time needed to
closely examine and take measurements with special tools to identify a
location that was more probably of interest. After cutting the section
at the location of interest and found the separation between the belts
that was almost all the way across. This separation allowed the tread
area to bulge out to the shape seen in the picture of the tire at the
top of this post.
For those interested these tires were not made in China as we decoded the serial and learned they were made in Mexico.
With the physical examination complete, John was able to file the three complaints with NHTSA. Now it is important to remember that NHTSA has budget constraints so investigations need to be prioritized. Obvious defects that result in physical injury would receive top priority. Also a single or small number of complaints will be of lower priority than a large number so if the only complaints NHTSA receives on these tires are the three from John there may not be any action. The same situation would apply to any complaint you might file BUT it is important to remember that if the majority of people with tire problems only post to RV forums or grouse to others around the campfire nothing will ever happen or result in the quality of tires improving.
Here are Links to John's information. Link 1 Link 2
A quick review of the complaint on file with NHTSA will show that the majority are of little or no value to NHTSA as the owner didn't provide the crucial information of a correct and complete DOT serial. Many complaints don't even provide the tire size or even the correct tire brand. I believe that if people spent half the time they do on RV forums but provided complete and accurate information to NHTSA we might all end up with better quality tires on our RVs.
If you have a tire problem you need to collect the facts - Size, Brand, DOT serial and collect some good sharp pictures in case NHTSA needs them. Then make the effort to file a complaint. Who knows, you might just be able to grab the interest of the engineers and have an investigation started.
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