Defective Tires Can Be Disastrous on the Road

On American roadways today there are approximately 250 million passenger vehicles. That is over one billion tires on these four-wheeled cars, alone.

Tires are one of the most critical components of a motorized vehicle, forming the only connection to the ground for the vehicle and everyone inside. When a tire suffers a blowout, the results can be catastrophic. When such wrecks occur, an experienced car accident attorney can help victims through a thorough investigation of the accident to ensure responsibility for damages is clear.

Tire Investigations Sometimes Determine Car Accident Cause

When investigating a car accident there are multiple questions an attorney will seek the answers to, such as:

  • What is the history of the tire
  • Has the tire been recalled
  • Did the tire have defects
  • Was the tire over-worn or overused
  • How long ago and where was the tire mounted
  • What was the date of manufacture
  • Where was the tire made
  • Does this tire model have failure history
  • Was the tire damaged as a result of the crash
  • Did the tire cause the crash

Tire failure leads to car accidents when the failure causes the vehicle to lose control. The vehicle may cross into multi-lane traffic, roll over, hit another car head on, or drive off the roadway. Injuries often include people in the car with the faulty tire, other motorists, other passengers and even pedestrians.

Effectively investigating tire failure or any car accident requires substantial investments by attorneys for the injured victims. These investments include time, resources and money. A thorough investigation requires experience and knowledge with the right financial resources, a quality team and multi-state case handling capability. Experts often called to witness by car accident lawyers include experts in the following fields:

  • Accident investigations
  • Tire design
  • Tire manufacturing
  • Material science
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Accident reconstruction
  • Biomechanical engineering
  • Computer specialists
  • Legal processes

During an investigation, physical evidence must be properly handled and preserved according to the best practices of chain of evidence to protect evidence integrity.

Considerations of a Tire Failure Investigation

When conducting a thorough tire investigation, attorneys must consider multiple factors. These include:

  1. Tire recall: Tire manufacturers must recall tires if they are found to be defective or have a safety problem that could lead to tire failure. Such tire safety recall is legally, ethically and morally the obligation of a manufacturer but there is not an effective system for recalling tires in the United States. As a result of the absence of a tire recall system, some tire installation businesses and retailers continue to sell and mount recalled tires.
  2. Tire aging: Rubber deteriorates from tires as they age. Components start to dry out and decomposition sets in. Tread separation then can occur, also known as de-treading. Such decomposition can occur on tires in storage, on showroom floor of tire retailers, on shelves of distributors or even mounted and used on a vehicle. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, tires should only be used for six years. This limitation of usefulness depends upon surface conditions and operations environment, but is shorter than most people would expect.
  3. Tire defects: Tread separation is one frequent cause of tire failure. This occurs due to unsafe design, during manufacturing, from aging or because of contamination. Some precautionary steps taken during manufacturing can vastly reduce tread separation risk. But most manufacturers cut corners and do not take these steps.

According to a study published by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the following statistics of tire failure accidents are true:

  • Nine percent of auto crashes involved tire failure in the pre-crash phase. Half of these crashes involved only one vehicle. 31 percent of these car wrecks involved more than one vehicle.
  • Vehicles with tire tread depths lower than 4/32 inches were most prone to tire failure accidents. Of vehicles with only 2/32 inches or less tire tread, 26 percent of those had tire failure before the accident.
  • In 45 percent of auto accidents involving SUVs with tire failure, 45 percent of those SUVs rolled over during the wreck. Fewer than 25 percent of other car types rolled over due to tire failure.
  • Inexperienced drivers or those not familiar with the car they were driving during an accident more frequently experienced tire failure as a cause of an accident. This is believed to be because these drivers do not pay as much attention to tire quality and air pressure.
  • When roads are dry only 3.9 percent of auto accidents are due to tire failure. On wet roads, those under water or with slick surfaces, accidents were found to be caused by tire failure in 11.2 percent of cases. This shows that adverse weather can cause tire problems to occur during vehicle operation.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident, an experienced attorney can investigate the accident to determine who was responsible and whether tire failure was a factor leading to your injuries or property damage. Call your attorney now for a free, no-obligation consultation.


Thanks to our friends and co-contributors at CantorCrane for their added insight into tire blowout safety.

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