According to a recent article by Andrew Martin in the New York Times,
Federal officials are requiring a small New Jersey importer to recall
450,000 radial tires, because they are missing the safety gum strip
that prevents the tread from separating. Apparently, the tires were
originally manufactured in China by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber for a
variety of pickup trucks, sport/utility vehicles, and vans.
These defective tires join a growing list of problematic products originating in China; among them are animal foods tainted with melamine, as well as toothpastes, liquid medicines, and candies sweetened with toxic chemicals.
It is unclear how many vehicles are riding on the defective tires, though some of the tires may have been on the road since October, 2005. Tread separation from reduced or missing gum strips has been seen to occur in these tires as early as 25,000 miles. A number of accidents have been reported, including an ambulance in New Mexico that rolled over after a Hangzhou Zhongce tire came apart; also a van wearing Hangzhou Zhongce tires rolled over in Philadelphia, injuring one and killing two others.
kind of tread separation is a similar type of defect to that which
contributed to the deaths of more than 250 passengers and ultimately
led to the recall of more than six million Firestone tires mounted on
Ford light trucks and SUVs in 2000.
The company selling the tires is named Foreign Tire Sales of Union, New Jersey; they sell imported tires from the Chinese manufacturer, Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber. Apparently, Hangzhou Zhongce sold these tires to at least six other importers or distributors in the United States, as well.
It's a tragedy that the manufacturer opted to save a few pennies in the production process by deleting this important safety feature. Lives are at risk, and Foreign Tire Sales will likely go out of business in the process of honoring the recall. The greater tragedy is yet to be seen as more Americans are injured or killed as they discover additional dangerous shortcomings in Chinese-produced products containing poisonous counterfeit sweeteners, lead paint, and inferior safety features.
Do you have tires manufactured by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber on your vehicle? Contact your tire retailer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find out whether the tires on your pickup truck, SUV, or van are safe. Quite a bit of information about this specific issue is available at the NHTSA website. Beginning this week, Foreign Tire Sales will begin advertising its recall of specific tires In USA Today. An 800 telephone number will be established from which additional information may be obtained. Consumers will be able to determine whether their tires meet the recall requirements (ie. brand, model, size and DOT code). If their tires meet the recall requirements, they will be asked to complete a recall questionnaire which will ask for all identifying information concerning the owner and the tire, as well as the identity of the dealer from which the tires were purchased.
Additional information on tire safety can be found at tirerack.com and Consumer Reports.
And in the meantime, as demonstrated by a recent article from Newsweek, it's becoming more and more important to ensure we know the origin of anything we purchase for or put into the mouths of those we love.
It would be a terrible tragedy to lose any more lives over pennies saved by purchasing sub-standard products. Consumers should take extra care to research purchases that impact safety and health--the money saved simply isn't worth the risk.
By Brandy Schaffels
Contributing editor and mother of two