A few weeks ago, I talked about tires on
big trucks. Regarding passenger vehicles, 30 to 35 million used tires are sold in
the U.S. every year. In a tight economy, it’s understandable why
so many are bought, but what price is paid in human injuries when these
tires fail at high speed?
Buyers can’t see the hidden defects caused by poor maintenance, bad
storage conditions, old repairs, and microscopic cracks. An old phrase
comes to mind, “There ought to be a law....” It should end
with the words, “that prohibit their sale.” No federal regulations
exist to control the quality of used tires that are sold. Only state laws
regulate tread depth, and that depth alone fails to cure the problems
that a high percentage of these tires have.
Remember, these are tires that someone previously discarded. Typically,
tire dealers pay recyclers a couple bucks to pick up and dispose of the
used tires. The recyclers sometimes employ deceptive methods to sell the
tires. For instance, they may paint the tires to make them look newer.
The Rubber Manufacturer’s Association has issued a bulletin warning
consumers and retailers to avoid used tires. It lists seventeen conditions
what would make a tire unfit for further service including punctures,
bead and inner liner damage, and internal separations that cannot be seen
even by tire experts.
Since a consumer cannot know the history of a used tire, one who buys it
is looking for big trouble. Does the tire have a history of being driven
against curbs? That can damage its bead and inner liner and cause internal
separation of plies. Was it driven on a highway filled with potholes?
The same damage could have occurred. How was it stored? Was it in a hot
warehouse stacked on a shelf exposed to sunlight that could have weakened
it through deterioration? Unless one has these answers and more about
the history of a tire, it shouldn’t be bought.
I’ll return to my phrase, “There ought to be a law that prohibits