NTSB Tire Safety Report: Deficiencies in Registration and Recall System

In October 2015, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its special investigation report on tire safety. The report states that the method by which tires are registered and recalled is ineffective.

From 2009 to 2013, 3.2 million tires were recalled, but only 44 percent of recalled tires were fixed or replaced. This rate also includes tires no longer in service.

In a typical recall, about 20 percent are brought back to the tire manufacturer. In contrast, about 78 percent of vehicles recalled due to defects are eventually serviced.

Requirements are in place for dealers and distributors controlled by the tire manufacturer to register newly purchased tires on behalf of their customers; however, when it comes to independent dealers and distributors, they are free from such requirements. Unfortunately, the latter is where most Americans go to buy tires.

Aside from the registration inadequacies, the Board also underscored the reality that most Americans are unaware of their tires’ aging process. For example, even if the tread isn’t worn, the age of the tire still matters. Other reasons for premature aging of tires include climate extremes (like extreme sunlight exposure), number of miles driven and road conditions.

The NTSB made nine recommendations to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most of them focused on improving registration and recall processes, advocating for better consumer guidance on aging tires, as well as promoting technological innovations that will reduce tire-related crashes. The NTSB also made recommendations to AAA, the Rubber Manufacturers Association and tire manufacturers.

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