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RV Tire Safety: Why aren’t there more tire recalls?

I have seen this question on an RV forum: “Why aren’t there more tire recalls?” It was asked by someone complaining that there were no recalls of what he considered “crappy” RV tires. Other posts in the thread went on to say that complaints to the BBB or the tire importer won’t accomplish much. I posted a reply pointing out that expecting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that is part of the Department of Transportation (DOT), to recall tires when there had not been sufficient, usable complaints filed, was simply unrealistic.

NHTSA is the government agency charged with the responsibility of writing and enforcing the regulations necessary to achieve improved safety of vehicle systems and equipment. However, they cannot order or even suggest that a vehicle or component be recalled without facts and data being collected and analyzed.

Helping a reader file a complaint with NHTSA

A while ago I worked with a reader of my RV Tire blog, John B., who understood the necessity of providing the information NHTSA needs. He had suffered three tire failures. Luckily, he discovered the failures before the tires had complete detachments. In his case there was no loss of air and no flailing of tire pieces. What he did have was a tire that was no longer round or having a uniform tread contour.

Now, let’s be sure we all have the same understanding of the terms. In this case, a “detachment” would be when a part of the tread or tread and belt package came apart from the rest of the tire. This type of failure can result in damage to the RV as pieces flail around hitting fenders and the side and undercarriage of the RV.

Partial or incorrect information filed = no investigation by NHTSA

John wanted to file a complaint with NHTSA and he wanted to be sure his complaints would be useful to the engineers. He understood that partial or incorrect information would result in no investigation. With no investigation, there was no possibility of any action being taken to remove “crappy” tires from use. So John contacted me and I walked him through the process of collecting all the details needed. He also wanted to  dissect his tire so he could ship the important parts to me for further examination.

When I received the sample, I first cut the tread in the locations John had identified, but found no serious issues.

I then called upon my 40 years of experience and took the time needed to closely examine and take measurements with special tools to identify a location that was more probably of interest. After cutting the section at the location of interest, I found the separation between the belts that was almost all the way across. This separation allowed the tread area to bulge out to the shape seen in the picture of the tire at the top of this post.

For those interested, these tires were not made in China. We decoded the serial number and learned they were made in Mexico.

John filed three complaints with NHTSA

With the physical examination complete, John was able to file the three complaints with NHTSA. Now, it is important to remember that NHTSA has budget constraints, so investigations need to be prioritized. Obvious defects that result in physical injury would receive top priority.

Also a single or small number of complaints will be of lower priority than a large number. So if the only complaints NHTSA receives on these tires are the three from John, there may not be any action. The same situation would apply to any complaint you might file. BUT it is important to remember that if the majority of people with tire problems only post to RV forums or grouse to others around the campfire, nothing will ever happen or result in the quality of tires improving.

Here are links to John’s information: Link 1 and Link 2

Majority of complaints filed with NHTSA are incomplete

A quick review of the complaints on file with NHTSA will show that the majority are of little or no value to NHTSA as the owner didn’t provide the crucial information of a correct and complete DOT serial. Many complaints don’t provide the tire size or even the correct tire brand. I believe that if people spent half the time they do on RV forums but provided complete and accurate information to NHTSA, we might all end up with better quality tires on our RVs.

BOTTOM LINE
If you have a tire problem you need to collect the facts—size, brand, DOT serial—and collect some good sharp pictures in case NHTSA needs them. Then make the effort to file a complaint. Who knows? You might just be able to grab the interest of the engineers and have an investigation started.

Have a tire question? Ask Roger on his new RV Tires Forum here. It’s hosted by RVtravel.com and moderated by Roger. He’ll be happy to help you.

Read more from Roger Marble on his blog at RVtiresafety.net or on RVtravel.com.

 ##RVT1057

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Thomas D
13 days ago

It’s all about the money! If you think the manufacturer of the vehicle you’re about to buy is going to spend $1 each for a better tire, I’ve got a bridge in New York I’d like to sell
A dollar here,a dollar there and pretty soon we are talking real money

Ron
13 days ago

It’s not crappy tires, it’s people don’t take the time to understand weight and speed ratings on rvs. Pitty the fools.

Crowman
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Plus buying the worst tires expecting top tire performance.

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