Tire separation cases are a product of an industry using imperfect technology and using it in ways that are reckless. Steel-belted tires are the standard for vehicles of all shapes and sizes, but this approach to manufacturing comes with inherent risks. What’s worse is that these risks are often exacerbated by slipshod manufacturing processes and a lack of quality control. The results can be devastating, as a tire that suddenly disintegrates on the road is an immediate emergency capable of causing a major accident. And though one or two manufacturers have received the most media attention regarding these claims, it’s a problem that is pervasive throughout the entire industry.
WHY ARE TIRE SEPARATION CASES SO COMMON?
The problem is twofold. First, the process of creating steel belted tires is inherently difficult. Steel and rubber do not bond together readily, and there is a risk of the failure even when proper safety measures are observed. This risk is much higher in hot and humid climates, like those in the southern parts of the country. Manufacturers often recommend under-inflation, which can also increase the chances of a sudden failure.
The steel and rubber bonding failure is the most common failure among manufactured tires, but there may be other reckless manufacturing processes that make it even more likely, and this lack of quality control increases the likelihood of tire separation cases. Some of these dangerous processes include:
- Not executing the curing process properly, and not monitoring adhesion throughout production
- Relying on aged rubber stock that can be harder to adhere to steel
- Using petroleum solvents during the process, as they can affect adhesion
- Poor quality control that results in foreign material, including moisture, being cured with the rubber
- Rushed and incomplete repairs
- Prioritizing quotas over quality—some manufacturing facilities require workers to manage extended shifts, including 12-hour shifts, and this may result in mistakes due to fatigue
When manufacturing facilities are investigated, startling problems are often found. In particular, different kinds of foreign material have been found in finished tires. Some of the foreign materials include:
- Chicken bones
- Live shotgun shells
- Bolts and screws
- Sunflower seeds
And that’s just a selection of discovered items. Any foreign material can have a catastrophic effect on the curing process, and tire separation cases are almost unavoidable with such lax safety measures.
Manufacturers have attempted to avoid liability by shifting the blame to drivers, but their assertions are often baseless. For example, some companies blame drivers for underinflating their tires, but underinflating becomes a larger issue when there are manufacturing defects marring the product. Companies also blame drivers for reacting to a tire failure improperly and overcompensating prior to a crash. However, drivers often have less than a second to respond to a failure, so blaming drivers is unfair under the circumstances.
The truth is, there are many problems in the industry that must be addressed, and until they are, more tire separation cases are likely to occur, as well as more severe and fatal injuries.