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Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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AG MYERS WARNS CONSUMERS ABOUT POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS TIRES SOLD BY OREGON TIRE DEALERS

August 2, 2007

Westlake, YKS and Compass tires purchased between 2002-2006 for trucks, SUVs and vans should be carefully examined for defects and reported to tire dealers

Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers today warned consumers about potentially dangerous tires manufactured between 2002 to 2006 for light trucks, sports utility vehicles (SUVs), and vans. The tires were made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. (HZ) in China and distributed in the United States under the names Westlake, YKS, and Compass.

On June 11, 2007, New Jersey-based Foreign Tire Sales, Inc. (FTS), the largest distributor of these tires, filed a Non-Compliance Report with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stating the tires may not meet the minimum specifications provided to HZ by FTS, and may be unsafe. Since that time FTS has narrowed its position on which tires may be defective.

FTS imported 450,000 of these tires into the United States and distributed them to tire dealers nationwide, including over 11,000 to dealers in Oregon. As many as 270,000 tires may have been considered substandard or missing "gum strips", an important part of a tire related to the prevention of tread separation. It is uncertain at this time which tires may be defective.

Because of the seriousness of tread separation, Attorney General Myers urged consumers to get their Westlake, YKS and Compass tires checked out by dealers if they are of the following sizes and model numbers.

 Size  Model
 LT225/75R‑16 CR861
 LT235/75R‑15 CR861, CR857
 LT235/85‑16 CR860, CR861 CF857
 LT245/75R‑16 CR860, CR861 CR857
 LT265/75R‑16 CR860, CR861 CR857
 LT310X10.5‑15 CR861, CR857

Affected tires contain a tire size starting with "LT," as well as a Department of Transportation (DOT) number that starts with "7D" and ends in either "02," "03," "04," or "05." The DOT number, brand name, size, and model are found on the tire sidewall.

Example number 1 of Tire Size located on Tire Sidewall
Example number 2 of Tire Size located on Tire Sidewall

Further information can be obtained from FTS's web site at www.foreigntire.com

In the interest of public safety, state Attorneys General nationwide are asking tire dealers to waive charges for such inspections, but because no recall notice has yet been implemented dealers are not required to inspect the tires without charge. Attorney General Myers advises consumers to retain their receipts for any charges for potential future reimbursement by FTS. Consumers should not drive their vehicle for long distances on hot roads and not overload vehicles until checked by a certified tire dealer.

If an inspection indicates that the tires may be unsafe, consumers are asked to immediately call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only), or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Although NHTSA has not called for a recall of any of these tires, an official recall of at least some of these tires may occur as early as August 2007.

Consumers who have experienced an accident as a result of one of these tires should file a complaint with the Attorney General's Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection office by calling the consumer hotline, and file a report with NHTSA by calling its toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 TTY: 1-800-424-9153.

As part of general tire safety, Attorney General Myers reminds consumers to keep the following tips in mind:

  • At least once a month and before every long trip, inspect tires for patterns of uneven wear that could damage tires. Check tire inflation pressure in accordance with manufacturer recommendations.
  • Do not overload your vehicle. Excess weight can place extra stress on your tires. Check your tire placard or vehicle owner's manual for the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely carry.
  • Develop safe driving habits. Observe speed limits and avoid fast stops, starts, and turns. Avoid contact with potholes, object and curbs when driving or parking your vehicle.
  • Keep your vehicle properly maintained. Rotate tires regularly, maintain wheel balance and obtain front-end alignment services as necessary.
  • Use the proper tires for your vehicle. Check the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations before replacing a tire with a different size and/or construction.
  • Be aware of how the outside temperature affects your tires. Hot weather can be especially hard on tires, causing them to expand. As the outside temperature drops 10 degrees, tire pressure drops about one or two pounds per square inch.
  • Have any tire problems checked out by professionals. If you find that one of your tires is losing pressure, take it to a tire expert for a complete internal inspection.
  • Be careful of buying used tires. It is possible that some used tire dealers may try to capitalize on this situation by re-selling tires subject to this inquiry that have been replaced and are supposed to be destroyed. Though unethical and hazardous, it has happened before. Check used tire numbers and do not buy any that are earlier specified.

Foreign Tire Sales - Retail Outlets in Oregon (pdf)

Contact:

Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) jan.margosian@doj.state.or.us |
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