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Goodyear Statement on NHTSA Preliminary Investigation

22 November 2000

Goodyear 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.