WASHINGTON-The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has dropped its recently reopened investigation of a line of passenger radials formerly manufactured by Continental General Tire Inc. (CGT) in Mt. Vernon, Ill. Meanwhile, CGT is still appealing a Nov. 16 court order forcing it to make public adjustment records on the tires in question, which include the General-brand GT52S and AmeriÃWay XT lines made between 1986 and 1990.
Critics say the tires are unusually susceptible to separations under high-temperature operating conditions.
Due to their age, most such tires are no longer in use. But some that were originally installed as spares could still be in service.
The issue arose after a victim of a 1992 accident filed suit in a Houston, Texas District Court, saying a tire failure was to blame.
The lawsuit was concluded with an out-of-court agreement. But the Houston court ordered the company to make public the discovery documents used in the case.
Following that court order, two Washington, D.C.-based consumer groups-the Center for Automotive Safety and Public Citizen-asked NHTSA to reopen its 1993 investigation of the tires.
The tire maker appealed the court's order, but furnished data to NHTSA on a voluntary basis.
As it had done a year earlier, NHTSA again found no defect trend in the company's data and dropped its latest investigation-disappointing those requesting it.
``We have to see what we can get out of the Texas court, to see what they have that NHTSA doesn't,'' said Clarence M. Ditlow III executive director of the Center for Auto Safety. ``But it sounds to me like a rush to judgment to excuse the guilty.''