TIRE DEFECTS

When automobile and truck tires fail because of design defects or manufacturing defects the results can be catastrophic. Permanent injury or death is foreseeable results. When a lawyer begins to evaluate a potential tire failure/defect case there are several things that are of great importance. First, a good working knowledge of tire design and the manufacturing process is critical.

A typical radial tire has eight component parts. The tread is the outermost part of the tire. It is the component that is designed to meet the road. The design elements that make up an adequate tread can be complicated. Thin cuts in the rubber surface of the tread are called sipes. They help to improve traction on wet roads. Groove ratio and shape are also important. The ability of a tire to keep traction in various road conditions depends of the efficacy of the design of these elements. Below the tread is the cap ply. This component helps to maintain the shape of the tire and control heating. Below that are the belts, a layer that strengthens the tire. These are rubber bonded with steel cords. It helps improve the performance of a tire during turning. The carcass ply is similar to the belts. Fiber cords bonded with rubber help strengthen the tire. The inner liner has a function similar to an inner tube. It is an airtight layer of rubber. The sidewalls, beads and lower beads are the parts of the tire that form the sides, help conform the tire to the metal rim and keep the tire properly attached. As can be seen, a tire is a complex product and defects in the design and manufacture of the various components must be carefully evaluated.

For example, a poor design or faulty construction of the inner liner can lead to tread separation. Improper curing, the use of corroded materials in the manufacturing process, contamination by foreign materials and the use of aging rubber stock can also lead to tread separation. Tread separation usually results in loss of control or a blowout. This can be devastating. Underinflating or overinflating tires can also lead to tire failure. It is very important to check the air pressure in tires on a regular basis to guard against this. But even if tires are properly maintained and serviced, design and construction defects can still lead to tire failure. This is especially true with respect to the issue of under inflation. Tires can leak air. This can be caused by tires that are more permeable than they should be.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate that there are over ten thousand accidents per year caused by tire failure and that at least five hundred deaths are related yearly to this problem. This is a major public health and safety issue and manufactures should take great care to insure that their tire product meet standards and are safe for consumers. Always take care to properly maintain your tires and replace them at appropriate times. At Jinks, Crow and Dickson we have many years of experience evaluation and pursuing cases involving defective tires. We will continue to strive to keep abreast of issues relating to tire failure.

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