There are several different types of tire failures. One of the most common
is tread separation. Tread separation is the result of the plies of a tire
separating from one another. Tires are built from different layers that are
exposed to high temperatures and pressure to bond the layers. Steel belts
are sometimes incorporated for more impact and puncture resistance.
Unfortunately, steel belts do not stick to rubber compounds properly unless
manufacturers use a special coating before putting them into tires. The
difference in steel and rubber makes tread separation possible in all
steel-belted radial tires. The risk of tread separation becomes greater as
vehicle speed increases.
Currently, many light truck and passenger vehicle tires do not use existing
technology designed to prevent tread separation. Many manufacturers have
ignored this technology because of the additional costs.
Another type of tire failure can occur when repairing multi-piece wheels and
rims. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has tried to
ban multi-piece rims, but the tire and wheel industries have been able to
avoid the ban. Single piece wheels have been around for decades, yet many
dangerous multi-piece rims are still on the market. OSHA guidelines require
employers to provide safety cage for employee use during tire mounting
operations, but accidents still happen.
When tires are being inflated, the sidewall of the tire can explode, causing
what is called a "sidewall zipper failure". Sidewall zipper failures are the
result of sidewall design and manufacturing. Additionally, deflating a tire
can add stress when the tire is re-inflated, sometimes causing blowouts.
Manufacturers typically handle this type of tire failure by issuing warnings
instead of changing tire designs.
Another dangerous type of tire failures are "bead fractures," which occur
during the inflation of the tire. When combined with low-pressure
explosions, bead fractures can cause rims and the tires to be thrown off
with great force, causing severed limbs, brain trauma, and facial injuries.
There are also high-speed spin-off failures, which occur when one of the two
rear wheels is stationary and the other wheel spins without restraint due to
a design defect.
Ozone cracking is an uncommon tire failure where small cracks on the tire.s
surface break down sidewalls. Manufacturing defects are normally to blame in
cases of ozone cracking.
Tire failures can be prevented with proper maintenance, but in some cases
are hard to detect because of a manufacturing or design flaws. By knowing
what to look for, you may be able to prevent unnecessary injuries. Tire
failure warning signs:
- Cracks in the sidewalls
- Tire vibration, indicating a misalignment, etc.
- Tread is unevenly worn down, indicating improper inflation, etc.
- Tread is very worn down
- Sidewall has bugles, indicating weakened areas
Tread separations result because of the steel belted radial tire technology. When a tread belt separation occurs it often leads to a tire blowout. Tread separations cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, even when the tire does not lose pressure. Tread separations have been found to be especially dangerous when occurring on Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV), often causing serious injuries and deaths.
Tread separations can occur due to the manufacturing process, including:
- Improper repairs
- Using over aged dry stock
- Missing warning signs during final inspections
- Using petroleum solvent before vulcanization
- Curing moisture into the tire
An October 2001 report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said that tread separations studied in Bridgestone and Firestone accidents reduced the ability of drivers to control vehicles, especially when tire failures occurred on rear tires and at high speeds. There was a much greater likelihood for death, injury, and crashes resulting when the tread separation occurred on an SUV rather than a pickup truck.
If you have any questions about your legal rights regarding an injury caused
by a tire defect, please contact Waltman & Grisham.
Use the links below to find additional information on tire failure.
Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/.
For information about known problems visit the NHTSA Tire Safety Information Page