Out-of-Date Tires Can Be Deadly

Santa Monica, CA California lawyer has gone to war with car companies and tire makers many times throughout her career. She is now seeing a new and deadly problem. Those tires on your vehicle may have very few miles on them and look fine, but if they are more than six years old, they may be on the road to a catastrophic automotive failure.

The problem is that the rubber ages, it becomes brittle and vulnerable to cracking and tread separation.

The tire might have been in the trunk for six years and never even been used. However, aging, out-of-date tires can be dangerous. “Tires contain antioxidants and when they stop being effective, the rubber gets brittle and it doesn’t have the same flexibility. Even if it has perfect treads, if it is six years or older, the tire is degraded.”

One of her current cases involves a family whose child was killed when the tread separated from the tire and caused a serious accident.

“The vehicle involved was used. It had been traded into a Ford dealer that fixed it up and put it back on the market without checking the age of the tires. The tires looked good but they were more than six years old,” Spagnoli says.

Tread separation is extremely hazardous. It can start slowly but as the tread comes off the tire, it creates a drag. Drivers feel the vehicle pulling toward the damaged tire and pull the steering wheel in the opposite direction. When the tread finally separates, the drag stops and the driver tries to correct the vehicle again creating a rollover situation.

Who’s liable?

Liability in these cases may belong to the tire manufacturer or it may belong to the car company.

In some cases, the tires may be warranted for 40,000 miles but fail because they are more than six years old. Warnings about when to replace tires are, to say the least, inconsistent and the information is not easily available to consumers.

Consumers beware

There have been efforts both nationally and at the state level to get consumer warnings out there about the danger of aging tires. But those efforts have met resistance. The lawsuits are in many ways an education tool because the information does filter down.

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