Increasing Pressure On Goodyear To Recall “Load Range E”
Goodyear announced that the firm had received notice from the National Highways Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to a preliminary investigation into its Load Range E light commercial tyres. This follows on from a number of complaints and issues raised as a consequence of a New Jersey court case being defended by Goodyear. The lawyers for the plaintiff claim that Goodyear has been aware of a problem with the Load Range E and has been conducting a “silent recall”, both allegations being vehemently denied by the tyre company.
However, Goodyear has been co-operating with the NHTSA over the past few weeks, forwarding as much information as requested – although some evidence previously used in another court case, has been sealed by the courts. This evidence, according to Christine Spagnelli, an attorney for the plaintiffs’ suggests that Goodyear were fully aware of a fault as far back as 1996, but has avoided making a full recall. Goodyear advise that they constantly monitor tyre trends and follow a long history of product development based on information received which might suggest a need to improve products.
The firm claims to have supplied some 27 million Load Range E tyres to commercial vehicles and light trucks and that the tyre tread separations, the most commonly found failure, can be caused by many things – low pressure, over-weight vehicles, damage from road debris, and “kerbing” the sidewall. Goodyear openly admit that when they spot a trend in tyre problems they investigate, and that in 1995 three teams of engineers investigated the Load Range E in every possible scenario, and that they found no fault with the tyres. They did however discover a trend towards ever-larger vehicles and a tendency to carry heavier loads beyond the capability of the tyre.
Subsequently, the firm introduced a Nylon overlay to the Load Range E tyres and by 1999 all new Load range E tyres had this overlay fitted. The firm also points out the increasing number of States raising speed limits from 55mph to 70-75mph, advising that the additional build up of heat in loaded conditions and the inability of drivers to control vehicles in tyre failure scenarios at speed, may be contributing factors to the tyre separation problem. The NHTSA preliminary investigation is not an indication that a recall is imminent.
It is exactly as it says, a preliminary investigation. In the event of sufficient evidence being found to give rise to a recall, the NHTSA will build pressure on Goodyear to make the official recall. Otherwise the NHTSA will continue to monitor the situation.
The NHTSA have come under a great deal of criticism in the USA recently, for their slow reaction to potential recall situations and the apparent ability of the manufacturers (of automobiles and tyres) to ignore or delay responding to the NHTSA. The government agency is unlikely to treat Goodyear with kid gloves if it finds anything untoward with either the product or the manner in which the firm has handled it’s business..