How Goodyear Covered Up “The Worst Tire Made in History”

May 24, 2018 | Crandall & Pera Law
How Goodyear Covered Up “The Worst Tire Made in History”

Documents published by the website Jalopnik show documents dating back nearly two decades from Goodyear, showing their G159 RV tire has been linked to more than 700 complaints—including hundreds of crashes, dozens of injuries, and nine deaths.

The expose called the tire “the worst tire made in history,” with documents from 1996 to 2015 pointing to a deliberate cover-up of safety issues with the tire. Legal documents and evidence disclosed for the first time in an Arizona court on April 4, 2018 also show lawsuits against the company, alleging it knew its secrecy about the tire's dangers would result in future injuries and fatalities. More, after nearly 20 years of reports of injuries and fatalities, the G159 tire is still on the road, possibly still playing a part in serious car accidents.

After the tire was cited in more than 40 lawsuits, the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) began investigating the tire in 2017. According to the Jalopnik article, Arizona judge John Hannah unsealed the documents relating to the investigation and lawsuits after ruling that the potential risk to public health outweighed the risk of confidentiality. Although Goodyear threatened Jalopnik with legal action if they published the documents, Judge Hannah ruled that Jalopnik could go ahead with their article.

Goodyear's failure to disclose and secret settlements

The G159 tire was installed on motorhomes and RVs beginning in 1996. These vehicles typically drive at highway speeds at 65mph or above. However, according to many of the lawsuits, at high speeds, the G159 tires generate internal temperatures of over 250 degrees, which causes them to blow out. A blowout at highway speed can cause serious accidents with property damage, injury, or fatalities.

Many of the lawsuits, along with public safety advocates, allege that the G159s were originally designed for delivery trucks, and not vehicles that typically travel at highway speeds. Yet the court documents show that Goodyear failed to even conduct high-speed tests on the tires until months after sales began. And in these tests, the first few failed at 75mph. Goodyear did not release the results of these tests, instead blaming them on user error.

In the report, Goodyear wrote, “Tire blowouts can be related to a number of facts, however the key ones being overload, under-inflation, vehicle speeds and road hazards.” It appears Goodyear was suggesting that over 700 claims of blowouts and injury were due to user error.

According to court documents, the tires failed in all positions on the vehicle—front, inner, outer, and rear. The tire failed across 39 separate models in 17 brands of motorhomes, and almost every failure occurred at highway speed. The documents show that the NHTSA started receiving reports regarding the safety of the tire more than 15 years ago, but the data was sealed via confidentiality agreements.

By 2006, Goodyear had about 74 casualty claims and dozens of lawsuits against them from around the company. However, when the NHTSA reached out to them, they only disclosed about seven injuries. Moreover, they were aware of about 450 crown separation issues with their tires that resulted in property damage claims. They reported only 58 to the NHTSA.

When a company settles claims regarding defective products behind closed doors, or via confidentiality agreements, or distorts and hides evidence, they put consumers at risk. Up until now, Goodyear was able to hide the safety risks of its dangerous RV tire from the general public. However, the NHTSA is now taking a closer look.

While this case is in progress, if you drive a motorhome or RV, check your tires to ensure you don't have G159s. If you've suffered a catastrophic injury as a result of these tires, either from your vehicle or someone else's, please get in touch with us for advice.

At Crandall & Pera Law, our personal injury attorneys want you to be safe out on the highway. We work with clients like you in Ohio and Kentucky to secure compensation if you're injured in an accident that wasn't your fault. Please call 877-686-8879, or fill out our contact form to schedule a no-obligation consultation.