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Tire Suit a Warning to RVers: Are Yours Safe?

June 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

A jury award against Goodyear in an failed RV tire lawsuit sends a renewed warning to RVers, according to a story posted by RV News Service.

Do you know what kind of tires you’re RV is riding on?

On Friday, June 25, a Pasco County Circuit Court jury returned a $5.6 million verdict against tire giant, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for selling a defective tire that in the end, was found to have been responsible for serious injuries to three RVers. In August 2004, John Schalmo was driving his American Tradition motorhome in Florida when the right front tire suffered a catastrophic tread separation. Schalmo lost control of the rig, and the motorhome crossed over the highway, an exit ramp, and finally crashed into trees. Mr. Schalmo and two passengers were seriously injured, one of them loosing both legs.

Goodyear was found responsible, as evidence presented in court, showed the company was aware the tires they were marketing to the RV industry were not safe for use on RVs. The G159 tires had been marketed to the RV industry in the 1990s and 2000s, although they were originally designed for urban delivery trucks, and had a maximum continuous speed rating of only 65 mph. RVs often are driven at speeds exceeding this rating, and the build up of heat from such speeds is a leading cause of this type of tire failure. In 1998 Goodyear increased the speed rating of its G159 tires to 75 miles per hourmph. In the trial, evidence was presented that the plaintiff’s attorneys argued showed that Goodyear was well aware that the 75 mile per hour rating was improper for safe use.

By 1999 Goodyear had issued both recalls and a service bulletin to remove G159 tires from RV service, but the recalls did not indicate tire design as the problem, but blamed customer misuse and inadequate load margins for the need of replacement. In 2006 Goodyear stopped production of the G159 tire, but the attorneys in the case say that the company has never made a complete recall of the tire, and they suggest many thousands of the tires could still be in the field.

This is not the first time Goodyear has been in the cross hairs over G159 failure cases. As many as a dozen claims have been settled out of court, under the cloak of “confidentiality” despite the fact that serious injuries and deaths have resulted from the tire failures.

The issue of G159 tires may not be limited to motorhomes. RV News Service staff have found at least one instance where an RVer used these same tires on his Ford F-250 pickup he used to carry his truck camper. Several motorhome users have reported G159 failures, including one who said his Class A rig was equipped with 2001 manufactured G159s. In 2005 one of them blew, putting his rig in the ditch with $35,000 in damages.

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