Tire Failure Reports Misleading, Says Goodyear

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co has received reports of failures of its light-truck tires that may have been linked to at least eight deaths, the Los Angeles Times has reported. However, a Goodyear spokesman says that report is misleading.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not opened an inquiry into the Goodyear incidents.

Joseph M Gingo, senior vice-president of technology and global products planning for Goodyear, said all tires can separate, and therefore tread separations do not necessarily indicate a defect in a tire.

Gingo said the problem Goodyear is having "is not a Firestone tire recall situation."

After examining two tires involved in damage claims without injuries back in 1994, Gingo said the company put together a group of engineers to examine the cause of the separations. After analyzing and testing processes, materials, and design, the group confirmed there were no material, design, or manufacturing process issues with the tires, Gingo said.

Due to the increased tendency for overloading commercial vehicles, Gingo said Goodyear started putting nylon overlays on those tires in 1996 to make the construction sturdier. However, Gingo said the overlay does not prevent tread separations.

Gingo said in the 30 accidents Goodyear has encountered that resulted in injury or fatalities, every tire the company has examined showed indications of impact damage, puncture damage, or overloading and underinflation.

The company did not state which tire models were having tread separations, but identified them as light commercial tires.

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