Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Stumbo Warns Consumers About Dangerous Tires from China
Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo issued a consumer warning related to potentially dangerous tires sold from 2002 to 2006 for light trucks, sports utility vehicles (SUVs), and vans. The tires were manufactured in China.
The distributor of the suspect tires, Foreign Tire Sales, Inc. (FTS), recently filed a Non-compliance Report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report warns that at least 270,000 tires nationwide are missing “gum strips,” an important tire component needed to prevent tread separation. Up to 3,050 of the tires are believed to have been sold in Kentucky.
The identified tires are made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. (HZ) in China and distributed in the United States under the names Westlake, Compass and YKS. Other brands manufactured by HZ include Vesta, Goodride, Milestone, and Telluride.
“Protect yourself and your family,” Attorney General Stumbo said. “I urge consumers to check all tires for any signs of tread separation.”
The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division advises consumers to check the sidewalls of tires for the brand name, size, model, and DOT number. If the DOT number contains “FTS” as part of the number, the tire may be subject to a future recall. Affected tires also will contain a tire size starting with “LT,” as well as a DOT number that starts with “7D” and ends in either “02,” “03,” “04,” or “05.” Further information can be obtained from FTS’s web site at www.foreigntire.com.
Specific tire numbers and sizes affected by this inquiry are as follows:
- LT235/75R-15 CR861 CR857
- LT245/75R-16 CR860 CR861 CR857
- LT225/75R-16 CR861
- LT265/75R-16 CR860 CR861 CR857
- LT235/85R-16 CR860 CR861 CR857
- LT31X10.5R-15 CR861 CR857
Kentucky consumers with the tires identified above should immediately contact the dealer where the tires were purchased. In the interest of public safety, Attorney General Stumbo is asking tire dealers not to charge for such an inspection.
If an inspection indicates that your tires may be unsafe, immediately contact the Consumer Protection Division at (502) 429-7134, as well as Foreign Tire Sales, Inc., and report the problem.
Accidents as a result of a defective tire should be reported to the Consumer Protection Division and the NHTSA by calling their Vehicle Safety Hotline Toll-Free; 1-888-327-4236 TTY: 1-800-424-9153. You may also consult with a private attorney, because you have a limited amount of time in which to file a lawsuit.
A multi state working group of Attorneys General has been created to investigate safety concerns about the tires. Attorney General Stumbo’s office is participating in this task force.
Consumers should keep the following tips in mind as part of general tire safety:
- At least once a month and before every long trip, inspect tires for patterns of uneven wear that could damage tires. Check tire inflation pressure in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. Also check that there is no beginning separation between the tire threads and the body of the tire.
- Do not overload your vehicle. Excess weight can place extra stress on your tires. Check your tire placard or vehicle owner’s manual for the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely carry.
- Develop safe driving habits. Observe speed limits and avoid fast stops, starts, and turns. Avoid contact with potholes, objects, and curbs when driving or parking your vehicle.
- Keep your vehicle properly maintained. Rotate tires regularly, get wheels balanced, and get a front-end alignment as necessary.
- Use the proper tires for your vehicle. Check the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations before replacing a tire with a different size and/or construction.
- Be aware of how the outside temperature affects your tires. Hot weather can be especially hard on tires, causing them to expand. As the outside temperature drops 10 degrees, tire pressure drops about one or two pounds per square inch.
- Have any tire problems checked out by professionals. If you find that one of your tires is losing pressure, take it to a tire expert for a complete internal inspection.
- Be careful of buying used tires. It is possible that some used tire dealers may try to capitalize on this situation by re-selling tires subject to this inquiry that have been replaced and are supposed to be destroyed. Though unethical and hazardous, it has happened before. Check used tire numbers, and do not buy any that are specified in this inquiry.
Additional tire safety information can be found at the NHTSA web site: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/TireSafety/ridesonit/brochure.html.
The “LT” in front of the number stands for “light truck.” The picture used here is of a passenger tire. A light truck tire will have “LT” instead of the “P” shown in the picture. “LT” tires are also used on sport utility vehicles and vans.
“235” represents the width of the tire in millimeters. “85” is the ratio of height to width. “R” stands for “radial,” and the “16” is the diameter of the wheel in inches. The letters “DOT” are meant to certify compliance with the applicable safety standards established by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Adjacent to the letters “DOT” is a tire identification or serial number. This serial number is a code with up to 12 digits that are a combination of numbers and letters. The last characters are numbers identifying the week and year of manufacture. (Example: “1501” means the fifteenth week of the year 2001.)
You should not drive your vehicle for long distances on hot roads until they are checked. It is recommended that you also be careful not to overload your vehicle.
NHTSA has not called for a recall of any of these tires, and no replacement tire program has been instituted. However, an official recall of at least some of these tires may begin in early August. Once those details are made available, the Consumer Protection Division will issue a release. The dealer where you purchased the tires should also have information available shortly. In addition, you may visit Foreign Tire Sales’ web site at www.foreigntire.com to register affected tires and obtain information related to a recall. A toll free number for consumers and tire dealers will be established.