It's not the first time this warning has been sounded. But it's one that bears repeating until tire dealers everywhere get the message: Don't risk customer safety or the future of your business by repairing punctures using only string plugs or other outside-in methods. Short-cutting proper tire repair is a recipe for disaster. Instead, carry out a permanent puncture repair following procedures recommended by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (considered ``accepted practice'' within the tire industry).
Among other things, these RMA-recommended procedures call for removing the tire from the wheel so it can be inspected internally to determine its condition, filling the injury cavity using a headless plug or cushion gum, then sealing the inner liner with the proper patch.
Most dealers and tire service workers know this. Yet many choose not to follow these procedures in order to save time-particularly if the customer is in a hurry.
Nevertheless, those not following the recommendations do so at considerable financial peril.
On May 12, for example, a Chicago jury returned a $12.7 million verdict against Ress Enterprises Inc., which does business in Carol Stream, Ill., as Army Trail Tire & Service.
The dealership was accused of improperly repairing a punctured tire on a Ford Bronco, which overturned in 1988, ejecting five passengers, including a 22-year-old man whose injuries left him a quadriplegic.
During the trial, the court dismissed claims against Goodyear, the tire's manufacturer. And earlier, out-of-court settlements had been reached with Ford Motor Co. and Bridge Products Inc., distributor of the string plug used in repairing the tire.
This left Ress Enterprises responsible for the $12.7 million in damages, minus $850,000 paid by Bridge Products and whatever sum Ford paid out under its confidential out-of-court agreement with the plaintiff.
Ironically, a witness at the trial said dealership employees knew about the RMA standards, but chose to repair tires with string plugs if customers insisted on cheaper repairs. So much for ``cheap'' repairs.