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Cooper Tire is starting 2016 off with a recall of certain Zeon LTZ light passenger tires manufactured this past September, marking the first tire recall announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) this year. According to the recall documents posted by NHTSA, the affected tires may fail to comply with a federal safety regulation, and as a result, may be subject to tread chunking or cracking. Should this condition occur, the tire may lose air, which can compromise steering control and possibly cause a crash.

The pertinent federal regulation, 49 C.F.R. § 571.139 S6.3.2(a), requires newly produced tires to successfully complete endurance testing without showing “visual evidence” of tread chunking or cracking. In this case, a Cooper technician identified a “low test result of 3620 kilometers” on a “routine surveillance tire” on September 11, 2015. A second tire was then tested, failing the endurance phase of the test at 2055 kilometers. The company ultimately wound up testing a total of eight tires for this issue, with only one tire passing the test.

The recalled tires include size 275/55R20 XL Cooper Zeon LTZ tires manufactured between September 1, 2015 and September 14, 2015, and contain tire identification codes ranging from UT Y1 CN9 3515 through 3715. While Cooper reports that it has stopped production of the affected spec and that it will scrap all tires still in inventory that were produced according to that spec, the company admits that it previously distributed 153 potentially affected tires.

Cooper will start notifying tire owners about the recall sometime this month, and will ask that the tires be returned to the dealer within 60 days for a free replacement. The recalled tires collected by dealers are then supposed to be sent to Cooper to be scrapped.

Unfortunately, tire recalls often fail to remove dangerous and defective tires from the road, resulting in needless injuries and deaths. This problem was recently the subject of a year-long investigation conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”). During its investigation, the NTSB discovered that only about twenty percent of defective tires actually wind up being returned to the responsible manufacturer during a typical recall. The agency attributed these terrible recall completion numbers in large part to problems with the manner in which consumers are currently told about dangerous tire defects.