Tire Blowouts, Tire Separations, and Other Tire Defects
In 2000, Firestone/Bridgestone recalled nearly 7,000,000 tires due to their unusually high failure rate. Unfortunately, the recall came much too late for the innocent victims who died as the result of tire blowouts. Our attorneys have experience handling cases involving defective tires and have written about tire defects for professional publications.
When a tire fails, many people refer to the failure as a “blowout.” Really, the tire can fail in a number of ways. A poorly-built or poorly-designed tire may have a “tread-to-belt” separation in which the tread of the tire peels off the top steel belt. A tire can have a “belt-to-belt” separation in which one steel belt peels off the other, a sidewall can fail, or the tire can fail where it attaches to the rim. When a tire fails, most people lose control of the vehicle because of the drag and changes in vehicle handling.
Firestone and Bridgestone aren’t the only companies to recall defective tires in recent years. Goodyear, Michelin, Dunlop, and Cooper have all conducted their own recalls. The problem is, recalls don’t usually happen until after someone is seriously injured or killed in an accident involving a defective tire.
There are several factors that increase the risk of a tire blowout:
- Bead failure: The tire bead is the edge of the tire that sits on a wheel. Beads help tires maintain their integrity, so bead failures often result in pressure loss.
- Aging tires: Rubber breaks down over time, compromising the integrity of older tires. Some manufacturers cut costs by using tires that are several years old.
- Sidewall failure: If the sidewalls deteriorate prematurely, the tire can collapse. In some cases, sidewall failure is due to the use of inferior materials during the production process.
Tire Tread Separation
Tire defects are often caused by failure of the adhesive glue used in the production process. The older the glue is, the more likely it is to be ineffective. Manufacturing impurities also cause problems with adhesive glue. Not all tire manufacturers keep their facilities clean and free of excess moisture, foreign metals, and other contaminants, resulting in the production of tires with serious defects. Tire manufacturers know about these problems, but some have refused to use better designs or change their manufacturing processes because it would cost them money to do so. As a result, innocent victims are injured or killed by defective tires every year.
There are two important reasons to inspect your tires after an accident.
- You may be able to spot a visible defect just by looking at the tire.
- Each tire has a DOT number that—once decoded—gives lots of information. The DOT number can tell the age of the tire, where it was manufactured, and what company manufactured it (the real manufacturer may be different than the brand listed on the sidewall).
Not all tire defects are immediately obvious, especially to an untrained layperson. If necessary, we will have an expert witness examine your tires and determine if a tire defect caused your accident. We may also need to hire a collision reconstruction expert to determine what happened at the time the crash occurred. Tire companies fight tooth and nail to show that the tire was not defective and that you should have been able to maintain control of your vehicle, so a collision reconstruction expert can be a valuable member of your legal team.
Manufacturers rarely, if ever, give evidence directly to accident victims. That’s why it’s important to have a product liability lawyer on your side. Using civil discovery and subpoenas, we fight for the documents that we need to prove the case. We have traveled to different states to interview people who worked in tire plants so we could learn about the conditions of the plant at the time of manufacture. We ask about moisture in the plant, manufacturing practices, and whether the manufacturer prioritized profit over safety.