Attorneys General Urge Motorists to Check Tires for Possible Dangerous Wear

ATTORNEYS general in 24 states are urging consumers to inspect certain car tires manufactured from 2002 to 2006 for possible dangerous damage. The tires were made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. in China and distributed in the United States under the names: Westlake, Compass, YKS, Vesta, Goodride, Milestone and Telluride.

The attorneys general issued consumer alerts and have formed a working group to look into concerns that an estimated 270,000 tires brought into the United States from China may be potentially unsafe. According to an Aug. 2 announcement by the Washington attorney general's office, the states participating in the working group include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

In June, tire distributor Foreign Tire Sales Inc. (FTS) filed a report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stating that certain tires may not meet minimum specifications and may be unsafe. According to the attorneys general, 450,000 of these tires were imported into the United States and sold by many hundreds of tire dealers. As many as 270,000 of these tires may have insufficient or missing "gum strips," an important part of a tire related to the prevention of thread separation.

"As a measure of good caution, consumers should check their car tires for signs of thread separation or possible damage and standby for a recall in the future," California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. said.

The states are still trying to determine whether additional potentially unsafe tires may have been distributed by other U.S.-based distributors or if other brand names were involved, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said.

If an inspection indicates that your tire may be unsafe, contact your attorney general's office. Although at this time, NHTSA has not called for a recall of any of these tires, an official recall of at least some of these tires may occur as early as this month, the California attorney general stated.

Because of the seriousness of tire separation, the attorneys general are urging consumers who to have the tires with the following sizes to have them checked by their tire dealer:

  • LT225/75R-16 CR 861
  • LT235/75R-15 CR861 CR857
  • LT235/85-16 CR 860 CR861 CF857
  • LT245/75R-16 CR860 CR861 CR857
  • LT265/75R-16 CR860 CR861 CR857
  • LT310X10.5-15 CR861 CR857

The DOT number, brand name, size, and model are found on the tire sidewall. Affected tires also will contain a tire size starting with "LT," as well as a DOT number that starts with "7D" and ends in either "02," "03," "04" or "05." Further information can be obtained from FTS's web site at http://www.foreigntire.com.

In the interest of public safety, the attorneys general are asking tire dealers not to charge for such an inspection, but since no recall notice has yet been implemented, dealers are not required to inspect the tires without charge. Consumers should not drive their vehicles for long distances on hot roads until they are checked and it is recommended not to overload vehicles.

Consumers who have accidents as a result of one of these tires should contact the NHTSA by calling the Vehicle Safety Hotline Toll-Free: 1-888-327-4236 TTY: 1-800-424-9153.

As part of general tire safety, consumers should review the following tips:

  • *At least once a month and before every long trip, inspect tires for patterns of uneven wear that could damage tires. Check tire inflation pressure in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.
  • Do not overload your vehicle. Excess weight can place extra stress on your tires. Check your tire placard or vehicle owner's manual for the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely carry.
  • Develop safe driving habits. Observe speed limits and avoid fast stops, starts and turns. Avoid contact with potholes, object and curbs when driving or parking your vehicle.
  • Keep your vehicle properly maintained. Rotate tires regularly, get wheels balanced and get a front-end alignment as necessary.
  • Use the proper tires for your vehicle. Check the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations before replacing a tire with a different size and/or construction.
  • Be aware of how the outside temperature affects your tires. Hot weather can be especially hard on tires, causing them to expand. As the outside temperature drops 10 degrees, tire pressure drops about one or two pounds per square inch.
  • Have any tire problems checked out by professionals. If you find that one of your tires is losing pressure, take it to a tire expert for a complete internal inspection.
  • * Be cautious if buying used tires. Check used tire numbers to ensure you are not being sold a recalled tire.

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