WASHINGTON (April 2, 2002) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed its investigation into 2.7 million General Ameri*550 tires produced by Charlotte, N.C.-based Continental Tire North America Inc.
NHTSA began its probe last July after the Ameri*550 was one of several tires that were the subject of a study by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The panel said the General-brand tire—one of the tires being used as a replacement for recalled Firestone Wilderness AT light truck tires—had a higher rate of claims than the Firestone tires they were replacing.
NHTSA said its investigation found no safety-related defect with the Ameri*550 P235/70R16 tires, nor did it find any reports of fatal accidents related to those tires despite claims that “alleged collateral damage to the vehicle, loss of vehicle control or bodily injury.”
The agency looked into all Ameri*550 tires made since 1995—85 percent of which were supplied as original equipment for the Ford F-150 pickup while the remaining 15 percent were sold as aftermarket equipment. It said “most claims were for property damage done to the inner fender and/or the pickup bed. A large percentage of these claims involved tires on work trucks and fleet vehicles.”
A statement from NHTSA noted that claims investigations by Continental Tire “conclude that the most likely cause of tire failure is over-loading, under-inflation, off-road damage, or a combination of these.”
Based on the low crash-to-claims rate and NHTSA's review of Conti's tire analysis—“which showed evidence of a trend of tire abuse on many of the failed tires—no safety-related defect has been identified at this time and no further investigation is warranted,” the agency said.