After years of delay, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finally issued a consumer advisory, warning motorists that outdated tires, even if they appear to be brand new, can lead to “catastrophic failure.” We wrote on this issue last month. NHTSA has dragged its feet on the issue and that’s fairly typical of the way the agency has dealt with safety issues. In this instance it was hard to understand the delay because of the agency’s past acknowledgement that aged tires are a serious safety risk. Sean Kane, who is an auto safety expert, had petitioned NHTSA in 2004 to issue a consumer advisory on aged tires, but until this advisory no action had been taken. In commenting on the agency’s action, Mr. Kane observed:
The vehicle industry, the tire industry and the government have known about this problem for years, but consumers have been kept in the dark.
NHTSA’s advisory warns motorists as they prepare for summer travel that “Old tires also are subject to greater stress, which increases the likelihood of catastrophic failure.” The advisory also informs consumers how to determine the age of their tires by reading the DOT code on the sidewall. A 20/20 investigation by ABC News into the dangers of aged tires got lots of public attention. The investigation detailed how as tires age, they can dry out and become brittle, leading to a possible catastrophic tread separation. Despite more than 100 deaths in the this country attributed to aged tires, NHTSA turned down a petition by Ford Motor Co. to impose a six-year shelf life on tires. This advisory does note that “some tire and vehicle manufacturers have issued recommendations for replacing tires that range from six to ten years of age. Consumers are advised to check with their tire or vehicle manufacturer for specific guidance.”
Source: ABC News
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