Chinese-Made Tires Often DangerousSep 29, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
We have long been covering the issue of consumer products, foods, and medications imported to the United Sates from China that have made news for toxins, high lead levels, bogus ingredients, and general defectiveness. Now, MSNBC has reported that Chinese-made tires can be included in the mix.
The two countries are arguing over trade tariffs for the tires, but some consumers are also concerned about tires coming from a country that has shown an abysmal track record for product safety. MSNBC noted that tire imports from China have increased from 15 million in 2006 to 46 million in 2008, citing the United Steelworkers union. The union—which represents rubber industry workers—has accused China of unfair trade practices, saying tire imports from China have jumped this year by an astounding 57 percent based on the weight of tires brought into U.S. docks, said MSNBC.
President Barack Obama agreed with the union, ordering higher taxes on tires imported from China in the hopes of stemming some of the imports unions say have cost thousands of Americans jobs, reported MSNBC. President Obama met with President Hu Jintao of China this week to discuss a number of issues, including trade, at the United Nations for the General Assembly meeting.
We have long been writing about the myriad problems associated with imports entering the United States from China. In recent years, imports from China have been at the center of safety worries in the United States and other countries with Chinese-made products impacting everything from medications, to toys, to consumer products, to pet food, to tooth paste. Now, some consumers might be concerned tires imported from that country are defective, posing serious safety issues.
According to tests cited by MSNBC, there could be a significant difference between tires manufactured in China for prominent brands such as Goodyear or Michelin and Chinese-made and –labeled tires and private store labels. Tire manufacturers argue that “production techniques and materials” are no different and that Chinese-made tires are of the same quality as tires made elsewhere, said MSNBC. According to Roy Littlefield, executive vice president of the Tire Industry Association, “The Chinese tires coming into this country for the most part have been safe tires…. All the tires have to be tested before they come here," MSNBC quoted.
But, last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigated defective tire valve stems produced by a subsidiary of Shanghai Baolong Automotive Corp., which sold 300 million valve stems linked to one death over the product’s susceptibility to cracking, which could deflate the tire, said MSNBC. Also, two deaths were linked to defective tires—due to tread separation—manufactured by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co.; 450,000 tires were recalled for that issue, according to MSNBC.
Chinese-branded Ling Long tires, which were tested by Car and Driver magazine found that the braking distances and cornering grip were much worse for the Ling Long than other tires tested and required about 22 additional feet, similar to one and a-half car lengths, to stop from a speed of 50 miles per hour.