An importer of tires based in New Jersey is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for help recalling 450,000 imported light truck tires from China, according to CNN Money. The tires are the focus of a lawsuit involving a fatal crash “in which two construction workers were killed and a third was severely injured when a van rolled over,” according to the New York Times. The lawyer representing the lawsuit claims that the company only came forward after being named in the suit. From CNN Money:
The tires, made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co., have an insufficient or missing gum strip, a safety feature that helps prevent the tires from separating, the lawyers and a consumers’ group said in a statement. The group, Safety Research & Strategies, is urging retailers and wholesalers to stop selling the tires.
The importer says the tires were sold under the names Westlake, Telluride Compass and YKS.
The New York Times reports that “tread separation” is the same problem that caused the infamous Firestone recall of 2000. The Times further reported that the New Jersey based importer would not receive help from the NHTSA and was responsible for the full cost of the recall. The importer responded by claiming that a recall would bankrupt the business:
Since Foreign Tire Sales maintains no inventory of tires, he said the company would have to buy new tires for every tire that was returned in the recall. That, added to the cost of disposing of the old tires, [a spokesperson] said, would cost about $200 for each tire.
“We don’t really know where to start,” he said. “There’s no way F.T.S. can recall this universe of tires. It will have to go belly up.”
It is unclear how many of these dangerous tires are on the road, but the Times reports that the Chinese manufacturer sold them to at least 6 other U.S. distributors who have not yet come forward.