Our firm has handled numerous cases against tire manufacturers when their tires failed causing accidents and injuries. As you may know, one of the most serious types of failure of a steel belted radial tire is a de-tread and/or belt separation. Because of the stress concentrations and subsequent high internal temperatures at the edge of the belt, this area is particularly sensitive to manufacturing, design and material problems. One tire we have learned has experienced problems with de-tread due to manufacturing and design defects is the Goodyear G159 steel belted radial tire. The G159 is actually a heavy truck tire made specifically by Goodyear for recreational vehicles. Several manufacturers, including Fleetwood and Monaco, have equipped their larger or class A recreational vehicles with the Goodyear 159 tire. These RV manufacturers selected the Goodyear 159 tire for use on their RVs based on Goodyear’s rating of the G159 and its recommendation that this tire was appropriate for these larger recreational vehicles.
Recreational vehicles are very popular in the U.S. for use during vacations. They are also a fan favorite in this part of the country during the football season. Tragically, several families’ vacations have turned into virtual nightmares when a Goodyear 159 failed, experiencing a tread separation, which caused an RV to lose control and crash. Our firm currently represents two families who have owned RVs equipped with these Goodyear tires whose vacations where cut short and lives forever changed because of these defective and dangerous tires.
The problem with the G159 is that it’s design and manufacturing process are inadequate for the expected loads on these big RVs. The G159s that we have examined have exhibited some of the worst failures we have seen. The design and manufacturing problems have led to tire tread and outer belt separations of G159 tires in all parts of the country. Our cases against Goodyear are still in the discovery phase. Goodyear, despite repeated request and motions filed with the different Courts, refuses to produce any documents or witnesses without having the Courts enter a “Secrecy Order” so that the problems with their tire can be kept confidential. Because Goodyear has not provided any discovery to date, in our cases, we still don’t know the full extent of the design and manufacturing problems which are causing the G159 failures. However, we have learned that at least one RV manufacturer, Fleetwood, has recalled some of their RVs which were equipped with the G159 tires after learning of the problems with the tire. As a part the Fleetwood recall, it is replacing the G159 on its affected RVs with Michelin tires.
We have also learned that another RV manufacturer, Monaco, has initiated, along with Goodyear, a tire “Customer Satisfaction Change Over” program were it, along with Goodyear, has offered to replace the Goodyear 159 tires on some of their RVs with larger and stronger Goodyear tires. While Goodyear maintains that the tire change over was due to customer abuse of the G159, the change over program, or silent recall, at least acknowledges that the G159 tires are not safe for these big RVs. In addition, we have learned that there have been numerous customer complaints to NHTSA relating to these tires. Several owners of RVs have had their G159 tires fail and have been more fortunate than others to escape injury.
What we don’t know is how many other claims have been filed against Goodyear. We also don’t know how many RVs are currently being operated with G159 tires. What we do know is that several of the larger RVs are no longer being built as equipped with the G159. However, until Goodyear or the RV manufacturers institute a program to replace the G159 with safer tires, RV users will remain at risk. If you want more information relating to the Goodyear tire problems, contact Rick Morrison who practices in our Products Liability Section.
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