Defective Tires Made in China Being Sold in United States


With the United States still reeling from the tainted pet food recall in March 2007 due to contaminated food imported from China, another product made there is causing serious injuries and deaths: defective tires. Almost 500,000 (possibly many more) Chinese-made tires sold in the United States, lack an important safety feature designed to make them more durable or the feature was present but in an insufficient degree.

The tires in question were distributed by Foreign Trade Sales Inc. of New Jersey and sold under the brand names Compass, YKS, Westlake, and Telluride in a range of sizes used on SUV’s, pickup trucks and other light trucks. All defective tires were sold as replacement tires and not as original equipment on new vehicles.

The company that manufactured the tire says it doesn’t have the money to pay for a recall and said it believes other United States distributors have been selling virtually identical tires, which could account for as many as an additional 500,000 defective tires on the nation’s roadways. FTS also said that in addition to not being able to afford a recall of the defective tires, the company can’t even clearly identify the tires affected because the Chinese manufacturer failed to provide it with the identification numbers of the tires missing the feature. FTS reported the problem to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in early June 2007, but FTS has known about the defect for as long as early 2006.

Tread separations are particularly hazardous when they involve vans and SUV’s, which are more prone to rollover due to their high center of gravity. In 2000, Firestone tires were massively recalled due to tread-separation problems.

This latest defective tire scare follows a fatal accident in 2006 where four carpenters were traveling back in a large van to their homes in Philadelphia after working all day in the Pocono Mountains. According to the lawsuit, two of the men were killed and a third was seriously injured when the tread separated on the left-rear wheel of the van causing the vehicle to crash. Also named in the lawsuit is General Motors Corp, maker of the van; GM is accused of building a defective vehicle prone to tipping over in accidents. However, the tires in the case were replacement tires and not part of the van’s original equipment.