Commentary on defective tires, cars, recalls and litigation.

Rich Newsome is an accomplished personal injury and products liability attorney who represents consumers who have been injured by defective tires, cars and other products. As Past President of the Florida Justice Association and current member of the Executive Committee of the National Trial Lawyers Association…MORE


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation has opened a rare tire defect investigation into the Michelin XZA 2 Energy tires, used primarily for tractor-trailer applications, particularly those configured as auto haulers. The Preliminary Evaluation, a low-level inquiry, is based on six complaints in NHTSA’s Vehicle Owner Questionnaires database, going back to 2012. Five of the VOQs are from a single fleet of trucks manufactured by Paccar Inc., but each complaint referenced multiple failures on multiple trucks. One of the complaints not included in the Opening Resume, but involves the XZA 2 Energy tire, claims that over-heating is a factor in the failures:

A 2014 Peterbilt 388 truck equipped with Michelin XZA 2 Energy tires, size 295-60-22.5. The contact stated that while traveling approximately 66 mph, the front passenger's side tire blew and the contact crashed into the median. There were no injuries. The contact also stated that the front driver's side tire blew the following day. ..The consumer stated this incident has occurred four times in 1 year, on both the passenger's and driver's side. The consumer stated the tires are not lasting due to the heat.

Tires are infrequent targets for NHTSA’s Office of Defect Investigations. In the last three years, the agency has opened only one other tire-related investigation covering 31,820 vehicles equipped with non-compliant Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. Opened in late June, the investigation focused on alerting automakers that might have installed TPMS electronic control units manufactured by BF1 Systems Limited between 2007 and 2014. The defective units might not illuminate the Malfunction Indicator Light when a vehicle’s ignition is deactivated and then reactivated. The investigation closed three months later, when all of the involved vehicle companies announced recalls.

NHTSA’s lack of investigatory experience in tires was one of the reasons cited for the agency’s slowness to react to the Firestone ATX / Wilderness crises in 2000. While the tire standards were upgraded significantly following Congressional intervention, NHTSA has done little since then to investigate tire defects.

How the agency addresses Michelin may be an important bellweather investigation for tire defect issues. We will continue to watch this story as the investigation continues; check back with us for further developments.

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  • Hyundai and Kia Recall More than 269,000 Vehicles Due to Safety Concerns

  • One large recall that stands out this year is when Hyundai and Kia, which are owned by the same South Korean company, recalled an estimated combined 1.8 million vehicles due to issues with the electrical and airbag systems. The problems could have caused serious injuries for drivers, passengers and even pedestrians. Hyundai and Kia are now issuing a few new recalls this week. Hyundai is recalling 240,000 older Sonata and Azera models, 20,300 2013 Santa Fe models, and Kia is recalling 9,345 2014 Sorrento vehicles.

    According to the NHTSA, the Hyundai Sonata vehicles are from model years 2006 to 2010, and were manufactured from March 1, 2005 to January 21, 2010. The Hyundai Azera vehicles are from the model years 2006 to 2011, and were manufactured from September 27, 2005 to November 22, 2010. The models are being recalled in cold weather states due to possible corrosion that could affect the alignment on the rear wheels of the vehicles.

    Cold-weather states...

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