U.S Firm Recalls China-Made Tires

Importer said manufacturer changed construction of tires.

Foreign Tire Sales Inc. (FTS) of Union, N.J., a U.S. importer, announced Aug. 9 the recall of 255,000 Chinese-made defective automobile tires, saying they lacked a key safety feature that could be dangerous. The company said that the steel-belted radial tires, used for light trucks and sport-utility vehicles, did not have gum strips, or had too-small gum strips, which help protect the tread and steel belt from separating from the tire. "Independent tests conducted by FTS in May, 2007, determined that the tires without gum strips or with insufficient gum strips posed a safety hazard," the company said.

FTS said the tires were manufactured by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co., and sold between early 2004 and mid-2006 as replacement tires under the brand names Westlake, Compass and YKS. Hangzhou Zhongce "changed the construction of the tires without informing FTS," the company said.

In June the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was reported to be pushing the company to recall some 450,000 suspect tires. The company reportedly first took note of problems in October 2005, but only reported its concerns to the regulator in June.

According to reports, the firm was sued after two people died in an accident allegedly caused when a faulty tire split in Pennsylvania. It in turn has sued the Chinese company, which has denied any defects in the quality of its tires.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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