Did you know that tires aged six years or more could put you at serious risk of an automobile accident? Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that tires you buy as "new" are actually that. Our aged tire lawyers are investigating claims that some big retailers – including Sears and Wal-Mart – have sold aged tires as new. In some cases, these aged tires have caused serious accidents, injuries and even deaths.
For too long, tire manufacturers have resisted adding expiration dates to their tires. It is time they be held accountable for their negligence. If you or someone you love was the victim of a car accident that may have been the result of older tires sold as new, our aged tire lawyers want to hear from you. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Please contact our aged tire lawyers right away to protect your legal rights.
The Dangers of Aged Tires
Good tires are vital to keeping you and your loved ones safe on the road. The age of a tire is a key factor in tire safety and performance. Research and tests show that as tires age, they begin to dry out and become potentially dangerous. The British Rubber Manufacturers Association, which also includes the major tire makers, has warned that "unused tyres (sic) should not be put into service if they are over 6 years old." Ford Motor Company has also urged the federal government to impose a six year expiration date for tires.
Aged tires have been blamed for catastrophic accidents and deaths. As of June 2008, the Safety Research & Strategies (SRS) had counted 159 incidents in which tires older than six years experienced tread / belt separations-most resulting in loss-of-control crashes. These incidents were the cause of 128 fatalities and 168 injuries. The SRS count also included an additional 10 cases involving tires older than five years at the time of failure (half of which were more than five-and-a-half years old at the time of failure). These 10 incidents accounted for an additional 14 fatalities and 24 injuries.
In 2004, SRS petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to act on aged tires, but nothing was done at the time. Critics have long charged the agency with dragging its feet on the issue of aged tires, despite its past acknowledgement that aged tires are a serious safety risk. It wasn’t until 2008 that the NHTSA finally issued a consumer advisory warning motorists that outdated tires, even if they appear to be brand new, can lead to "catastrophic failure." Sadly, the tire industry has fought efforts to require an expiration date on tires, maintaining that age is not the key factor in tire safety and performance.
20/20 Expose on Aged Tires Sold as New
Recently, the ABC News program 20/20 aired a shocking undercover report that revealed many retailers are selling tires older than six years as new. For the investigation, 20/20 and ABC affiliates from across the country visited Sears, Wal-Mart and other retailers to find out if they were selling older tires as new. They discovered:
- tires made in 2001 and 1999 being sold at an Indianapolis, Ind. Wal-Mart;
- two aged tires dating back to 1999 and 2000 for sale at a Wal-Mart store in Orlando, FL;
- nearly a dozen aged tires being sold as new as part of a special "manager’s clearance sale." at Sears stores.
The consequences of driving a car with aged tires can be devastating, as was evidenced by the 20/20 segment. The piece highlighted the death of Andrew "Andy" Moore, a gifted student and musician from Newtown, PA, who died in a 2002 van accident caused by the sudden tread separation of a tire which had been sold to the family years earlier as new. In reality, the Firestone tire was nearly four-years old at the time of purchase by Robert Moore, Andy’s father.
On July 31, 2002, Andy, who was soon to start his second year as a mechanical engineering major at Lehigh University, was driving himself and four high-school friends in his father’s GMC Safari van during a camping trip in Ontario, Canada. Even though it still had plenty of tread, the rubber of the left rear tire tread separated as Moore rounded a curve on Highway 401, a main highway in southern Ontario.
Andy, who was wearing his seat belt, lost control of the van. It rolled several times and came to rest in a ditch. Moore and another high school classmate died. The other three passengers sustained minor injuries. They served as pall bearers at Andy’s funeral.
Moore’s parents eventually settled a wrongful death lawsuit against Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire and other local vehicle service defendants stemming from Andy’s death. Terms of the settlement are under court seal but the Moore family, beginning with the 20/20 expose, is now publicly addressing the need for action to prevent similar tragedies resulting from the sale and use of "new-old tires.
Protecting Yourself from Aged Tires
As the 20/20 segment demonstrated, until manufacturers are forced to place expiration dates on tires, consumers need to know how to protect themselves against aged tires being sold as new. It is vital that you learn how to read the code embedded on a tire’s sidewall which reveals the year and week a tire was manufactured.
According to 20/20, that code is at the end of a jumble of letters and numbers on the tire and, until recently, was on the inward side of the tire requiring motorists to climb under the car to read the number. For example, the number 418 would indicate that a tire was manufactured in the 41st week of 1998 and is 10 years old. Knowing how to read this code could save your life, as most safety experts agree, a visual inspection or check of tread depth of a tire will not reveal that it is too old.
Of course, an expiration date on tires would make it far easier for consumers to determine if a tire is too old to be safe. But so far, the industry has resisted all calls to include an expiration date on tires sold in the U.S., insisting that there is no scientific information that can point to when a tire should be removed because of age. While tire consumers in Europe and Asia are armed with this vital information, those in the U.S. are being left in the dark.
Legal Help for Victims of Aged Tires
Our aged tire lawyers are offering free case evaluations to the victims of aged tires and their families. If you bought an aged tire sold as new, and were the victim of a car accident attributed to a faulty tire, you may have valuable legal rights. Please fill out our online form, or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) to discuss your case with one of our aged tire lawyers today.