Saturday, March 20, 2010

Aged Tires Are a Hidden Danger to Your Family and You

Check your tires for aging.

In May, 2006, Willie Moreno, age 11 years old, was killed when his family's Ford Explorer rolled over on a highway in Riverside, California. The cause of the crash was attributed to a catastrophic tread separation of the left rear tire that had been discovered to have been found that had been manufactured 12 years prior to the accident. American Tire Depot (ATD) was found to be negligent for installing the tire involved in the accident. The claim against ATD was that ATD was responsible for rotating the 12 year-old spare tire onto the Ford Explorer when the vehicle was brought in for replacement tires. It is reported that the family went to ATD to replace its two rear tires, and that ATD sold them one tire and told them to rotate the spare tire in.

Aged tires present a hidden danger even if the tire treads are unworn and haven't been driven a mile according to consumer and tire industry sources. As the tires age they can deteriorate and become brittle. Hence both automobile and tire companies have issued bulletins recommending the shelf life of a tire between six and ten years. In Moreno's case, Bridgestone Firestone sent out a technical bulletin to its dealers advising, "It is recommended that all tires (including spare tires) that were manufactured more than ten (10) years previous be replaced with new tires." Also in 2005, Ford Motor Company issued an advisory about aged tires, stating, "Tires degrade over time even when they are not being used." Hence, Ford recommends replacing tires "after 6 years of normal service."

Last year, the California legislature enacted legislation requiring dealers to disclose the age of a tire in writing to consumers prior to the sale or installation of a tire. Not a bad idea for Idaho to consider this perhaps in the next legislative session.

How can you check your tires to determine their age?

Each tire has a stamping that provides a DOT marking thereon. As an example in the picture noted above, the tire has a stamp thereon that reads, "DOT MK87 FOWR 4202." That stamping provides the following information, namely The "DOT" stamp notes that the tire met the U.S. Department of Transportation safety standards as of the date the tire was manufactured. The "MK" stamp notes the tire plant code where the tire was manufactured. The "87" stamp indicates the tire size code. The "FOWR" stamp indicates the manufacturer's symbol identifying the tire brand. Lastly, the "4202" stamp indicates the week and year the tire was made - in this case, the tire was manufactured in the 42nd week of the year 2002.

Check your tires to see how old they are, and a tire happens to be six (6) years or older, consider having them replaced. Traveling at speed on a tire 6 years or older could result in a catastrophic tire separation causing a loss of control of the vehicle and a crash. In this sad story, an 11 yr. old lost his life. Don't let that happen to your family or you. Take action now.

Unfortunately, in Idaho, we have no law that requires a company that sells or installs tires to notify the consumer of the age of the tire at the time of sale or installation (or rotation). I will be working to get this law changed, however, in the interim, check your tires now to insure that your tires aren't over the recommended age limit in order to protect your family from severe injury or death.

CONTACT INFORMATION: If you or a family member have been injured or damaged due to the fault or responsibility of someone else, an industrial accident or by a dangerous or defective product, drug or toxic substance, contact Alan Morton for a no obligation, free consultation.

For additional information contact:

Alan L. Morton
1005 North Eighth Street
Post Office Box 420
Boise, ID 83701-0420
Telephone: 208.344.5555
Toll Free: 866.946.1669 [866.WIN.1.NOW]
Facsimile: 208.342.2509

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