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August 5th, 2022

Tire Tread Separation Can Cause Accidents, Injuries, and Deaths

Motor vehicles wouldn’t exist without tires. Over the years, tires have vastly improved, making them safer and longer-lasting. Tire safety is a concern because those on your car may fail and cause an accident, and those on another vehicle may be dangerously defective, cause a loss of control, and send that vehicle crashing into yours. One potential tire problem which could lead to an accident is tread separation.

How are Tires Made?

Many materials are used, including rubber, silica, Kevlar, carbon black, special oils, pigments, antioxidants, and steel wire. Your tires are a sandwich with a cord body, steel belts, and the rubber tread.

What is Tire Tread?

It’s literally where the rubber hits the road. The tread has several elements, including:

  • Tread grooves or voids: the open space in the tread pattern
  • Tread lugs or blocks: the raised portion of the tread
  • Tire or tread wear bars: small, raised bars in the tire grooves to measure how evenly your tread wears

The tread wears out as you use your vehicle. As the tread wears down, the tires are less effective in stopping and safely getting through water, snow, and ice.

Why is Tire Tread Important?

It helps your vehicle accelerate, corner, and stop. Properly maintained and inflated tires can also maximize your fuel economy.

How Do Treads Separate From the Tire?

Separation happens when the steel belts come away from the cord body, or the rubber tread loosens from the steel belts. If this happens, the tire isn’t safe to use, no matter how much tread is left. The tire will be greatly out of balance, causing a heavy thumping noise when you drive, or you’ll feel a squirming sensation from your vehicle.

The tire may look normal if it’s on your car, but if you remove it, you’ll see it’s out of round. You may see a bubble on the sidewall or tread or a “mole hole.” That’s a bump or knot on the sidewall about the size of a fingernail. It shows the cord body or belts are distorted.

If tread separation happens on your tire, you must replace it because it can’t be repaired. Depending on how long you’ve owned the tire or the mileage on it, a warranty may apply, so you might not need to pay for a replacement.

What Dangers are Caused by Tread Separation?

Tread separation can cause the tire to blow out. Depending on the vehicle’s speed and whether the road is slick, that may cause the driver to lose control. That may lead to the vehicle crashing into an object or another car. If you avoid this situation, the violent tire failure may damage your fender well.

What Makes Tire Separation More Likely?

Large trucks suffer tread separation more often than passenger vehicles. New tires for commercial trucks are expensive, so an alternative is retread tires or recaps. Manufacturers take old tire carcasses, recondition them, and attach new treads.

If something goes wrong in the manufacturing process and the tread and steel belt section don’t correctly bond to the tire casing, it may only take a short time before the tires go out of balance. A bump appears in the tread area, it expands, and the tire fails.

A repair shop could negligently try to repair a retread using a “patch and plug” technique to fill a puncture in the tread. This involves inserting a plug into the hole. If it moves between the tread and casing, it could lead to tread separation.

The vehicle owner can also make a bad situation worse:

  • Overinflation causes excess heat, speeds up wear, and doesn’t permit the tire to absorb shocks
  • Repeatedly hitting potholes or objects
  • Driving beyond the tires’ rated mileage limit

If mistakes by another vehicle owner caused your accident and injuries, they might be obligated to compensate you for injuries you suffered and costs you incurred.

What Can I Do to Prevent Tread Separation?

Avoid the mistakes vehicle owners commit listed above. Periodically look at your tires to see if something’s abnormal, like a bulge in the tire’s side. You should also inspect your tires if your car starts riding differently, the tires become especially noisy, or you made hard contact with a pothole, object in the street, or curb.

You can also be proactive by checking out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recalls database to see if your tires are unsafe.

Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, LLP Can Help You After an Accident Caused by a Tire Defect

Our lawyers have many years of experience helping car accident victims, including those injured in an accident caused by defective tires. Whether those tires were on your vehicle or another, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We’ll discuss what happened, how the law may apply, and your best options for obtaining compensation.

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