Lawyers in our firm have successfully handled numerous lawsuits against large tire service centers and/or tire dealers for their unreasonable conduct in placing unsafe tires on their customers’ vehicles. In each case the tire later failed, causing severe injury or death. Whether tires are new, used, or have been removed for rotation or repair, a tire service center has an obligation to its customers that the correct tire is installed on the vehicle and that the tire is not unsafe or dangerous.
Most consumers know very little about tire safety and depend on their tire dealers and/or service centers for advice which makes the tire service centers’ policies, procedures, training and expertise critical to their customers’ safety. Unfortunately, the larger tire service centers continue to ignore adopting simple safety policies which would save lives when their customers look to them for safety advice.
A current tire safety issue that is being ignored by most tire service centers is placing older tires on vehicles despite their knowledge of the dangers of “aged tires.” Most, if not all, of the large retail tire service centers and dealers such as Wal-Mart, Sears, Pep-Boys and Discount Tires have received service warnings from various tire and vehicle manufacturers against placing older or “aged tires” on vehicles. For example, in October 2005, Firestone issued a technical service bulletin warning its dealers and retailers against placing tires more than ten years old on vehicles, regardless of the tread depth or appearance. Michelin did the same in 2006. Several other tire makers followed suit and warned tire service centers against placing any tires older than ten years, including the spare, on a vehicle because of the dangers it could present to their customers.
The car manufacturers have issued warnings since 2005 as well. Ford Motor Company issued a warning in 2005 advising against the use of tires older than six years. Ford’s warning states “tires degrade over time, even when they are not being used…you should replace the spare when you have replaced the other road tires due to the aging of the spare tire.” In its warning, Chrysler says:
Tires and spare tire should be replaced after six years, regardless of the remaining tread. Failure to follow this warning can result in sudden tire failure…resulting in serious injury or death.
To our knowledge, Discount Tire is the only major tire service center to follow the warnings of tire and car manufacturers advising against placing older tires on vehicles. Discount Tire has adopted a policy that it will not only warn its customers of the dangers of using older tires, it will not place a tire more than ten years old on a vehicle. That certainly speaks well for this company and its bosses.
Unfortunately, Discount Tire is the only major tire service center to heed the manufacturers’ warnings of the dangers of aged tires. The other major tire service centers, despite their knowledge, continue to ignore warnings and will often place older tires such as spares on a customer’s vehicle. Further, tire service centers like Wal-Mart will not even inform their customers of the warnings provided to them by the tire and car manufacturers concerning the use of older tires. This is particularly troubling when the manufacturers’ have repeatedly acknowledged that they expect their tire dealers to follow their advice, inform their customers of the dangers of aged tires, and not place them on vehicles for their customers’ safety.
In addition, Wal-Mart has acknowledged that it provides no training for its tire technicians on tire aging or how to read the tire date, which is embedded in the cryptic DOT code molded on the tire sidewall. That is shocking and cannot be tolerated. The average consumer can’t determine, without specific instructions, how old a tire is. That creates a most serious problem and points out how important it is for corporations like Wal-mart to do its duty.
Until tire service centers start to follow the manufacturers’ recommendations concerning the dangers of “aged tires,” their customers will continue to be placed at risk because of unsafe tires being on their vehicles. If you need additional information on this subject, contact Rick Morrison, a lawyer in our firm who has handled a number tire cases, at 800-898-2034 or by email Richard.Morrison@beasleyallen.com.
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