General Motors Warns Consumers about Age of Tires and Safety Concerns
I recently wrote a blog concerning safety and the age of tires and today was pleased to learn that General Motors has decided to add a tire age warning to the 2012 Owner’s Manuals for their U.S. models. It simply states “The rubber and tires age over time. This also applies to a spare tire if the vehicle has one, even if it is never used.” Multiple factors including temperatures, loading conditions, and inflation pressure, and maintenance affect has fast aging takes place.
GM recommends that tires, including the spare, be replaced after six years regardless of tread wear. The tire manufacturer date is the last four digits of the DOT tire identification number (TIN) which is molded into one side of the tire sidewall. The first two digits represent the week (01-52) and the last two digits the year. For example the third week of the year 2010 would have a four digit DOT date of 03-10.
The Ford Motor Company and Daimler Chrysler also inserted tire age warnings into their Owner’s Manuals in 2005 and GM’s absence was conspicuous. The Director of GM’S Tire and Wheel Laboratory, James Gutting stated that “The fact is that most tires wear out before they age out.”
With the large volume of knowledge concerning tire aging science, accident avoidance, and safety concerns, other manufacturers took an earlier lead in 2005 warning consumers about tire replacement after six years. Accidents continued to occur as a result of tire defects including but not limited to catastrophic tread separation. As one can imagine, when there is a tread separation, it is very easy to lose control of the vehicle which often results in rollovers and ejection of the occupants.
As recently as July 3, 2010, three generations of an Arizona family were returning to their home from Disneyland when the right rear tire of a 2003 General Motors Chevy Trail Blazer experienced a catastrophic tread separation. The Trail Blazer rolled over fatally crushing the driver and killing his 8-year old grandson who was ejected when a third row seat belt unlatched. Other individuals in the vehicle sustained upper body injuries. The tire that failed was a 7-year old full size spare tire that had been rotated into service three years earlier. Prior to that, evidence revealed that the tire remained stored in a spare well right up near the engine exhaust system where the hot exhaust pipe combined with the hot climate of the southwest accelerated a thermo oxidation of the BF Goodrich Rugged Trail tire, diminishing its strength.
We are glad that GM has become a final participant of American automakers to warn consumers of this potentially lifesaving information concerning tire aging safety.
Our Philadelphia tire defect legal team is committed to consumer safety and will continue to investigate tire defects and represent those who sustain catastrophic injuries and wrongful deaths therefrom. Please check the age of your tires and spare tires to make sure that you are transporting yourself and precious cargo as safely as you would like to think.