DETROIT (AP) — Nineteen years after the last one was made, Goodyear has agreed to recall more than 173,000 tires from recreational vehicles that the US government says could fail and kill or injure 95 people since 1998.
Goodyear’s G159 tires have been under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since December 2017. On Tuesday, the agency posted documents on its website saying it had pressed the company for a recall.
Documents say the tire’s tread can separate from the body, causing drivers to lose control and increasing the risk of an accident.
The agency began investigating the tires nearly five years ago after a judge ordered the release of Goodyear data that had been sealed by court orders and liquidation agreements.
Lawsuits and safety advocates allege the tires were designed for delivery trucks and not recreational vehicles traveling at highway speeds. They allege that Goodyear kept the issues under wraps for years, solving cases and having judges seal the records.
The tires were made from 1996 to 2003. The numbers of dead and injured were revealed in a 2018 information request letter to the company Akron, Ohio. The agency did not specify how many people died in accidents involving the tires.
Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. denied the tires had a safety defect and said on Tuesday that few, if any, are still on the road. The company said it was recalling it to address the risks that come when tires are under-inflated or over-inflated on motorhomes.
“This tire has not been manufactured since 2003, has consistently met Goodyear’s demanding safety standards and we have not received an injury claim related to the use of the tire on a Class A motorhome in over 14 years,” Goodyear said in a prepared statement. .
Documents show that the government security agency sent a letter to Goodyear requesting a recall of the 22.5-inch-diameter tires on February 22 of this year, and the company declined the request on March 8. or in use.”
NHTSA must hold a public hearing and then go to court to force a company to recall.
Goodyear will replace the tires with a newer model at no cost to trailer owners. Owners of used tires on other vehicles can exchange them for $500.
Goodyear said in government documents that the manufacturers of RVs that used the tires are no longer in business, so it does not have access to registration data for RVs with the defective tires.
NHTSA has issued a statement urging anyone who owns, rents or uses a trailer or truck with 22.5-inch rims to ensure that G159 tires are not on the vehicles. “If their vehicle has these tires, they should complete this recall as soon as possible,” the statement said. The agency said it found the tires had a high failure rate when compared to similar tires.
Michael Brooks, interim executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said the Goodyear case exposes all the flaws in the system designed to keep unsafe tires and vehicles off the road.
“Sealing documentation that there is a distinct threat to public safety should be against the law,” said Brooks, who added that several states have such laws.
He said the NHTSA should have acted much sooner after getting a solid case from attorney David Kurtz in a lawsuit against Goodyear.
“I think the documents that were given to them at the start of the investigation were enough to come to a conclusion very quickly,” said Brooks, whose organization sued for an Arizona judge to release the Goodyear lawsuit documents.
Goodyear, he said, struggled hard. “There was a lot of cat and mouse going on with Goodyear on this issue,” Brooks said. “They’ve effectively prolonged this defect process so long that they won’t have to replace many tires, and that was the ultimate goal, to preserve profits.”
The NHTSA statement did not address why it took more than five years for the agency to seek a recall in the case.
Goodyear’s statement said trailer manufacturers who chose the G159 tire for their motorhomes were responsible for communicating appropriate load limits to their customers. The manufacturers that would be responsible for such communications are no longer on the market, the statement said.
This story has been corrected to show that the last G159 tire was made 19 years ago, not nine years ago.