The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on June 7, 2022, announced Goodyear had issued a total recall of the company’s G159 tires size 275/70R22.5. The action came more than a decade too late to prevent hundreds of unnecessary serious and deadly crashes due to tire tread separation and blowouts of the 22.5-inch tires.
Consumer Reports says as much, writing on June 8, 2022, “The tires were produced between Feb. 1, 1996, and Jan. 31, 2003, underscoring how long it has taken for them to be recalled. In fact, it took so long that these tires have aged out and should no longer be used by usual standards. But this is an important notice because the tires have an elevated risk if still in use.”
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Results of a CR investigation into the recalled Goodyear tires published in 2021 itself pointed to NHTSA investigation findings from 2017. The magazine also uncovered settlements in “at least 41 lawsuits stemming from G159-related crashes.”
Doing the Right Thing Eventually Means Doing the Right Thing Too Late
Evidence of the tread separation and blowout problem emerged five years before Goodyear stopped making the G159 tires size 275/70R22.5 tires. In its 2022 announcement, NHTSA notes, “some RV owners may have the tires on their vehicle, or set aside as a spare, and do not know. … [I]t is possible that these tires can be found for purchase on online marketplaces. It is illegal under federal law to sell recalled tires or other motor vehicle equipment.”
A Detroit Free Press report explains, “Goodyear started getting injury claims in 1998 as some states raised freeway speed limits to 75 mph. It also received death claims every year from 2002 through 2006.”
The newspaper also quotes an NHTSA letter to Goodyear that summarizes court testimony from a Goodyear engineer. In 2007, the engineer recalled company tests conducted in 1997 showing the G159 tires size 275/70R22.5 tires could easily fail when mounted on RVs travelling at highway speeds.
A more-complete timeline of tire failures, case suppression and silent settlements kept out of the news by nondisclosure agreements appears on DangerousTrailers.org. No one knows exactly how many crashes and resulting lawsuits resulted from use of the recalled Goodyear tires. No one knows because the company worked for decades to hide this information.
Corporations often buy themselves unearned goodwill by compelling plaintiffs in defective product lawsuits to accept compensation only on the condition that the victims refuse to speak with reporters. Goodyear, like many other companies, also pressured plaintiffs who accepted settlements to agree to allow the court to seal all records related to their cases. This meant other attorneys and investigative journalists who wanted to uncover evidence of ongoing corporate negligence often faced insurmountable barriers to doing so.
Defective Tires Are Not the Only Risk
Goodyear issued its tire recall in the middle of 2022 Trailer Safety Week. When a recreational vehicle is being towed or being used to tow, drivers must follow each of these best practices for reducing risks for crashes:
- Inspect the trailer before each use. Look at the condition of the tires, bears, hitch, brake lights and turn signals, and structural integrity to ensure that it is safe to operate.
- Know the tow rating of the vehicle and trailer. The manufacturer provides this information in the owner’s manual. Ensure the vehicle is rated to pull the trailer you plan to use.
- The loaded trailer weight should never exceed the towing weight for which your vehicle is rated.
- When hitching your trailer use the correct hitch ball size to accommodate your trailer. Ensure that, once attached, the latch on the hitch is closed and pinned so it cannot come off.
- Check that, when hooking up the safety chains to the vehicle, the chains are crossed to provide a cradle if the trailer becomes detached.
- When driving with a trailer pay attention when making turns. Depending on the size of the trailer, you may have to swing further out to keep the trailer from hitting the curb.
- Drive an appropriate speed for the trailer and what you are hauling to prevent any issues. Allow more time for braking when driving.
- Use towing mirrors, when necessary, to better see your blind spots.
- Remember that towing a trailer can lengthen the amount of time needed to come to a complete stop.
- When loading and unloading equipment onto the trailer use a ramp to load or unload when using a trailer to haul wheeled or tracked equipment.
- Ensure that any equipment or cargo is tied down appropriately so it will not come loose during transport.
- Ensure there is proper weight distribution when loading your trailer, avoiding being overloaded either in the front or back of the trailer.
- Avoid using the trailer in ways it was not intended to be used.