WASHINGTON (Nov. 21, 2000) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced today the beginning of a preliminary investigation of load range E light-truck tires manufactured by Goodyear.
The probe will cover about 21 million tires made by the Akron-based company and its affiliates between 1991 and 1999 that are used on light trucks and vans. NHTSA said it has received 37 complaints of tread separation that allegedly resulted in 15 deaths and 129 injuries in 31 accidents.
The agency said a full list of sizes and brand names of tires to be probed will be developed later in the investigation.
In an Oct. 25 press release, Goodyear said tread separations do not necessarily mean a tire is defective. The company said it added a nylon overlay to these tires in 1996 to make give them "a more robust construction" to meet the increased load demand of "a new breed of larger vehicles, pickups, vans and towed vehicles."
The tire maker said it has investigated 30 tire-related accidents and found that, in every tire it has examined, there was evidence of impact damage, puncture damage or over-loading and under-inflation.
In a Nov. 21 interview with Tire Business, Goodyear said it has provided NHTSA with information regarding all the estimated 27 million load range E tires it has manufactured from 1990 to 1999. It believes about half are still in use.
The tires under scrutiny are primarily from the Wrangler line, according to the company, but also include Kelly and other brand tires manufactured by Goodyear. While they are 16-inch-sized tires used primarily for commercial applications for large pickups and other vehicles, some are used on recreational vehicles and larger passenger vans with capacities of 12 to 15 persons.
"Our tires have integrity and quality," a Goodyear spokesman told TB, "and we believe this will be borne out over time once the investigation is complete."