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Defective Tire Lawyers

While most drivers will log many hundreds and probably thousands of miles without so much as an air leak, tire failures can and do occur regularly. While not all tire failures result in a serious accident, the sudden failure of a tire can cause a vehicle to lose control and either roll over or collide with other vehicles. Tire failures are particularly dangerous when the vehicle is traveling at highway speeds. Tire failures are also more likely to lead to rollovers when they occur on a vehicle with a high center of gravity, such as many popular sport utility vehicles (SUVs).

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a car, truck or SUV accident in which a tire defect led to loss of control or rollover and roof crush, you may have a right to compensation for the financial and emotional cost of what you have had to endure. It is vitally important to discuss your case with an experienced attorney who can offer you an honest and reliable evaluation of your case.

How Tires Are Manufactured Contributes to Tire Failures

Tires are built in layers on a tire building machine. The tire is built in the green or uncured state, and the core or carcass of the tire is sometimes referred to as the "green tire." During the manufacture of a steel belted radial tire, a layer of skim stock is applied to the green tire and then the steel belts are applied around the green tire. Another layer of skim stock is then applied and then the tread is applied around the belts. The entire tire is then subjected to high temperatures and pressures to cure the tire assembly. After it has been cured, the tire is mounted on a rim and permitted to cool.

Most tires manufactured today are steel belted radial tires, and tread separation is the most common type of failure in steel belted radial tires. Tire tread belt separations are an inherent by-product of steel belted radial tires. While steel belted radial tires have the advantage of providing impact and puncture resistance, the use of steel belts is inherently problematic because rubber will not adhere to steel. To obtain adhesion of the rubber tread to the steel belts, tire makers coat the steel with brass. Rubber will adhere to brass, but brass has a tendency to break down quickly.

Tread separation is not a new problem. When the tread separates from the tire carcass or the inner plies, it can frequently cause a blowout. Tread separation can also cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, resulting in collisions and rollovers. Loss control is especially likely in vehicles with a high center of gravity such as Ford Explorers and other SUVs.

What Causes Tire Failure/Tread Separation?

Tread separation can occur as a result of both design and manufacturing defects. Tread separations can frequently be traced to poor bonding or adhesion of the tire components during manufacturing. Tire plants frequently emphasize quantity over quality, which leads to lax quality control practices. Poor quality control and manufacturing practices can result in moisture, foreign matter and other impurities getting cured into the tire. The moisture and impurities can lead to a tread separation when the tire is put into use. Because tires are made by hand, perspiration and dirt from the workers' hands can also contaminate the tire and cause tread separation.

A warning for American consumers: A spare tire that is stored underneath or on the rear end of a vehicle is exposed to the elements, even if it is located inside a cover. Repeated heating and cooling and exposure to road spray can degrade the tire, leading to dangerous defects. Exercise extreme caution before driving on any spare tire. Remember, even invisible defects can kill.

Inadequate or over-aged skim stock can also lead to tread separation. Manufacturers sometimes use solvent between the belts to restore skim stock that should be thrown out. The use of certain solvents on tire components and between the belts can lead to tread separation.

Furthermore, during the final inspection stage of tire production, defects that should otherwise be spotted are sometimes allowed to slip through the inspection. Final inspections that should take about two minutes per tire take as little as 15 seconds in some plants.

Tire Design Defects That Lead to Tire Failure

Design defects that contribute to tread separation include deficient skim stock and the lack of nylon overlays. Improving the skim stock can lead to better adhesion or bonding of the rubber to the steel and thus make tread separation less likely.

A nylon overlay, which consists of a nylon "safety belt" between the tread and the steel belts, can also make tread separations less likely. The nylon overlay placed over the steel belts acts like a "tourniquet" by providing stability to the interior components of the tire. It also assists in resisting moisture intrusion into the tire. Nylon also contracts when heated and acts to pull the components of the tire together when the tire starts to heat up.

Unfortunately, U.S. tire manufacturers have resisted the use of nylon overlays. Although it has been estimated that nylon overlays will only increase the cost of a tire by about a dollar, nylon overlays have typically been used only in "high performance" tire lines.

Contact Us

Miller Weisbrod, LLP, is a nationally recognized leader in plaintiffs' personal injury trial law. Our lawyers combine extensive experience and proven skill in the fight to hold negligent manufacturers and automakers to account for the injury and loss that tire defects can cause. We invite you to contact our offices in Dallas at 214.987.0005 to discuss your rights and legal options with an experienced trial lawyer.

We offer free initial consultations to potential clients nationwide. If you are calling from outside the DFW Metroplex, please use our toll-free line at 888.987.0005 or contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment.