Driving on danger - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Driving on danger

By Emily Pantelides email
Posted by Rachel Leigh email

(WFLX) - It's a story every driver on the road needs to hear. Are the new tires you are buying really new?

A crash, a boy's death, and this investigation will forever change how you buy tires.

A blow out: "It was like a pow, a pop," described Teresa Taylor.

According to this lawsuit, Teresa Taylor was driving her SUV when the tread separated from her driver's side rear tire skidding out of control. The vehicle then rolled over. Her 15-year-old cousin Tevin Pettis was a passenger. "And they told me he had passed away.

"I didn't run over anything. I didn't hit anybody, but I just did not know what caused the accident."

Investigating the accident, Taylor's attorneys say, they determined Taylor bought that tire new one year before the accident. But, on the tire, they found an obscure D.O.T. code. That code shows the tire was manufactured in 2002.

That means it sat on a shelf for four years before Teresa bought it.

You see, we found out that secret code is etched on every single tire. All of yours have it. The four-digit code shows the week, and the year the tire was made.

For example, if the tire's D.O.T. number is 1408, so it was manufactured the 14th week of 2008.

Volkswagen, Ford and Chrysler each say tires degrade with age. All three say tires, new or old, should be replaced after six years.

But, get this, the Rubber Manufacturers Association said this: "RMA is not aware of scientific or technical data that establishes or identifies a specific minimum or maximum service life for passenger and light truck tires."

"NHTSA recognizes that tire age degradation presents a hazard. The public is still at risk because it has little or no information about this mostly invisible hazard; however, the outreach to consumers has been virtually nil."

"They have not required the auto manufacturers or, perhaps more importantly, the tire manufacturers to warn the consumers."

Bridgestone Firestone guidelines say all tires should be inspected at five years and replaced at 10 years. That brings us back to Teresa Taylor and her lawsuit.

About her case, a Firestone spokesperson said, "We believe strongly that Firestone acted totally appropriately in this case, and, we believe, that this case is without merit."

But the family of Tevin Pettis still wants to know how a tire coded for 2002 could be sold as new. "If they've got it coded for a specific year that it was manufactured, then it's really not new, even though it hasn't been driven."

If you want to check the code on your tires right now, it's printed on the inside wall of the tire. But starting next September, the Feds are changing laws requiring that every new tire have that D.O.T. code on the outside wall of the tire.

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