December 31, 2006


It has long been known that tire aging represents a hazard, whether for in-use tires or spares. Now, attention is being drawn to the issue from a number of directions:

• NHTSA is expected, after much delay, to adopt tire aging requirements sometime next year. An agency study group has published an extensive set of findings and recommendations that would provide the basis for the requirements. One of the recommended tests “likely will involve subjecting a tire to high temperatures -- up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit -- for 8 or 10 weeks in a high oxygen environment,” the Detroit News reports in an analysis of the proposals. “A separate durability test endorsed by the working group would run tires at high speeds -- about 75 miles an hour for more than 30 hours.” The newspaper noted that safety advocates have urged NHTSA to set tire expiration dates but NHTSA “is yet to rule on those. Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, submitted details Wednesday of 108 accidents linked to tread separation of tires more than 6 years old that resulted in 85 deaths.”
• Thanks to run-flat spare-tire technology and tire pressure monitoring systems required on new cars, the old-fashioned “fifth wheel” spare tire is becoming obsolete, according to an article in the Detroit Free Press. “Representatives from General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group said they are looking at alternatives to spare tires, including using tires that are safely drivable when flat or equipping cars with some sort of temporary repair kit. Currently, only 40% of new vehicles in the United States and Canada are equipped with a full-size spare tire and that number will drop to 36% by 2011…” In addition, government rules have “reduced the need for spare tires” by “requiring vehicles to have tire pressure monitoring systems, which signal the driver when there's a significant decrease in air pressure.” By model year 2008, all new vehicles must be equipped with the monitoring systems.

• A Florida lawsuit has highlighted the hazards of aged spare tires, according to an article in the Florida Times-Union. “Anom Josil has a warning for anyone traveling the highways this holiday season: If your spare tire is more than 6 years old, get a new one. Josil, 53, saw his wife of 25 years and two friends from Orange Park killed in July when their passenger van crashed on Interstate 95 in North Carolina. The rollover was caused by the tread on what appeared to be a perfectly good tire separating from its steel belt, according to lawsuits filed in Jacksonville by Josil and families of the other victims.”

The tire looked “like it just came from the shop,” said the family’s attorney. He said the deaths could have been prevented with a simple expiration date sticker warning consumers to replace the tire if it is more than 6 years old. "All we're asking them to do is put it in plain English. If beer manufacturers can put expiration dates on bottles to help taste, tire manufacturers can put expiration dates on tires to save lives."

• NHTSA is seeking public comment as to whether tire manufacturers, retailers and car companies should be required to continue collecting and maintaining records of new-tire first purchasers. “In 1982,” according to a tire trade journal, “NHTSA instituted regulations requiring automakers and tire companies to obtain and retain for three years contact information on tire buyers. Tire dealers are required to obtain such information on a voluntary basis. Tire registration information is used to inform owners of safety-related tire recalls. NHTSA, as directed by the Office of Management and Budget, is considering whether the current system is necessary, and, if so, what changes should be considered to reduce the costs and burden of collecting and retaining registration data.”

Posted by MVHAP at December 31, 2006 11:35 AM