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Stacks of failed tires: who’s to blame?

Published: May. 28, 2019 at 10:18 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WAVE) - Our tires take a beating. There’s a lot of pressure on them because there’s a lot of pressure on us. And our lives depend on them.

“This was probably a curb or pothole and it just ripped the tire all the way through this sidewall,” tire dealer Peter Benson said.

Peter Benson has been selling tires for more than three decades. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Peter Benson has been selling tires for more than three decades. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

He runs a store in Lexington that sells new and used tires from major brands, and is highly rated in reviews.

”I’ve been selling tires for 34 years,” Benson said, “and I’m out in the shop not behind a desk, and I’ve never seen a tire do this before."

He has a room piled high with tires that failed.

“For some reason,” he said, “just really within the last year, we’ve seen them come in with these injuries, whereas we’ve never seen it before with the Douglas tire. Since I’ve never seen this in all the time I’ve sold tires, I wanted to document this.”

Douglas tires are manufactured by Goodyear. Benson doesn’t sell them new.

Most of the failed tires he showed us had plenty of tread left on them. The injuries that made them go flat are all in the sidewall.

“When we started seeing the tires come in in these numbers with holes in the sidewall and the tears,” Benson said, “there’s gotta be a reason behind it.”

Most of the failed tires he showed us had plenty of tread left on them, but all the damage was...
Most of the failed tires he showed us had plenty of tread left on them, but all the damage was in the sidewall. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

We contacted Goodyear, who sent two representatives to investigate the sidewall damage. The company said this has nothing to do with the sidewall thickness of Douglas Tires.

They said it’s evidence of why consumers should not buy used tires.

In a statement sent to WAVE 3 News, Goodyear determined Benson was “selling used tires that had been previously removed from service" and found “no issues relating to the design or manufacture of the Douglas brand tires. Used tires have unknown histories and may not have been properly maintained, serviced, repaired or stored. These tires may have damage which could lead to tire failure.”

Benson said yes, he sells used tires, which he called the “red headed step child of the retail tire industry.” But he said this is the only tire to which he’s ever seen this kind of failure happen, and it’s not repairable.

"When the tire rotates, the sidewall flexes, and there's really no repair that withstands that constant flexing,” Benson said.

Safety Research and Strategies, a safety advocacy group, did research for us and found 56 Douglas Tire complaints reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration alleging "issues associated with quality and premature failure.”

But that was over 16 years.

Their analysis of Douglas Tire reviews found “reviewers have generally approved of the Douglas all-season tire as a good tire for a budget cost - but did have caveats” including “tire leaks and sidewall damage, but most were caused by incorrect mounting techniques.”

Goodyear insisted there is no problem with the tire, but there is a big problem with selling used tires, adding:

"The United States Tire Manufacturers Association has sponsored legislation which has become law in some states prohibiting the installation or sale of unsafe used tires."

One of those states, Ohio, where Goodyear is based, passed that law five months ago.

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