Goodyear Statement on NHTSA Preliminary Investigation
22 November 2000Goodyear Statement on NHTSA Preliminary Investigation
AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 21 Goodyear today (Nov. 21) received notice from NHTSA that it will conduct a preliminary investigation into its Load Range E light commercial tires. The investigation covers tire information that Goodyear previously had supplied to NHTSA two weeks ago as part of an informal information exchange. Goodyear has always voluntarily cooperated with NHTSA by providing information promptly and thoroughly to assist the agency's efforts. The company constantly monitors the performance of its tires and is confident that, put in proper perspective, all of Goodyear's Load Range E tires on the road today have excellent durability and performance. Load Range E Tire Background Information As part of Goodyear's long history of continuous product improvement, the company is always looking at safety and performance data. We recognize that there may be trends that if spotted early, can signal the need to improve our products. Load Range E tires are heavy-duty tires made primarily for commercial vehicles, including light trucks, vans, trailers, etc., and rarely found on SUVs or other consumer vehicles. In the past 10 years Goodyear has manufactured more than 27 million of these Load Range E tires. We estimate that half are on the road today. The tire tread separations in question are the most common form of failure on all Load Range E tires, and can be caused by a variety of things including low air pressure in tires, over-weight vehicles and damage from road hazards and debris. Whenever Goodyear sees an unusual pattern of customer inquiries about any of its products it immediately launches a thorough investigation. After such a pattern appeared involving Load Range E tires in 1995, three separate teams of Goodyear engineers spent almost two years looking into every aspect of the materials, design and manufacture of these tires. After testing and re-testing every possible scenario, they found nothing wrong with Load Range E tires. What they did discover was an evolving trend toward larger vehicles and a growing tendency to put heavier loads in those vehicles which meant the Load Range E tires were sometimes carrying heavier loads than their capacity allowed. Goodyear responded to the evolving usage by adding a nylon overlay to new Load Range E tires. By last spring all of Goodyear's Load Range E tires had this new overlay, making them even more durable at heavier loads. Another item that has recently come under scrutiny as a factor in tire- related accidents is the correlation of increasing speed limits from 55 mph to 70-75 mph in many states. In addition to the potential of additional heat build up by the tires at higher speed in loaded conditions, you also have the impairment of a driver's ability to control a vehicle if he or she encounters a "tire-related" situation such as a road hazard at the higher speeds. In the interest of safety Goodyear urges drivers to check tire pressures frequently and never exceed load limits. Customers with questions about the safe operation of their tires can visit any Goodyear dealer or store for a free tire checkup.