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Tread Separation as Michelin Recalls Over 840,000 Tires

At The Pittman Firm, we believe that Floridians should be able to trust that the products they buy and use are safe. In our role as your Panama City product liability law firm, we help Bay County residents and visitors injured by defective products recover compensation from manufacturers, sellers, and others responsible for placing faulty items in the stream of commerce. Since we also represent victims of auto accidents, we know that it is especially dangerous when that defective item is a car or automotive part.

Last week, Michelin North America Inc. announced a voluntary recall impacting approximately 841,000 tires that it sold under the BFGoodrich and Uniroyal brands. According to the Associated Press report carried by Businessweek, the tire's treads can separate, resulting in rapid loss of air. While no injury or deaths have been linked to the problem, quality-control workers began to notice an uptick in complaints regarding the tires earlier this year. Michelin told reporters that separation has occurred in fewer than 150 tires, but the company instituted the recall to protect driver safety.

The current recall covers replacement tires used on heavy duty, full-sized vans as well as commercial light trucks. The specific tires, made between April 2010 and early 2012, are BFGoodrich commercial tires LT 235/85 and LT245/75 and Uniroyal Laredo tires LT 235/85 and LT245/75. Michelin will replace the tires free of charge and has set-up websites and a toll-free number for consumers.

Tread separation is a recurring problem for manufacturers. Although Firestone and Ford battled over who was legally responsible, more than 200 people died and 3,000 suffered serious injury due to a tread separation issue. The accidents prompted the recall of millions of tires in 2000. Despite the lessons of that tragedy, tread separation problems have continued. As recently as February 2012, Goodyear issued a recall of approximately 40,000 Wrangler Silent Armor tires because of tread separation problems.

Tread separation occurs when a tire's tread comes apart from the body of the tire, known as the casing. The problem appears most often in tires used on large cargo trucks because owners or operators may opt to use retread or recaps (placing a new tread on a reconditioned tire) rather than buying a very costly new tire. In passenger car tires, separation is often identified and remedied before it causes a blowout or other type of failure.

Manufacturing defect is one of the leading causes of tread separation. An error in the chemical process can prevent the tread and steel belting from fully bonding to the tire casing. After only a short period of use, the defective tire will exhibit balance problems. Next, a bump will appear on the tread. With continued use, the bubble will expand until tire failure occurs.

Improper flat repair is another culprit in tread separation problems. When a puncture is not properly prepared, the tip of the repair plug can cause tread separation. Once this error occurs, it will continue to grow until the tire fails or is replaced. Other causes of separation include over-inflation, excessive wear, or hitting a large pothole at high rate of speed.

Defective tires are dangerous and can be deadly. Manufacturers must be held to a high standard of excellence, and tread separation stemming from manufacturer defect cannot be tolerated. Our Panama City tire defect attorney is prepared to fight for victims who have been injured or who have lost a loved one due to a tire manufacturing defect. Product liability claims provide vital compensation, but also warn the industry that safety must always be a top priority.

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