“Nine percent of car, SUV, truck and van crashes are caused by tires that aren’t up to snuff. Here’s how to determine whether the ones on your car need to be replaced -- before they fail.”

Those were the opening words by Jon Linkov in the April 2017 issue of "Consumer Reports (CR)." He credits the estimate to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

I wondered about that statistic and its implications, so I looked up the April 2012 study. It defined tire problems as follows:

* Blowouts or flat tires.

* Tire or wheel deficiency.

* Tire or wheel failure.

* Tire degradation.

How NHTSA defined those problems is critical to understanding the survey. It did so based on each problem’s relationship to the crash. “Tire or wheel deficiency” is assessed as an "associated factor" prior to the crash. They are documented factors “that might have played a role in crash occurrence.”

 “Tire or wheel failure” and “tire degradation” are assessed as "critical reasons for the crash." They are the “immediate reason for the critical event” and are often “the last failure in the causal chain.”

“Blowouts or flat tires” are assessed as the "critical pre-cash events." They are documented as “the circumstances that made the crash imminent.”

What are the implications of this statement? Even though the CR story goes on to rate the top all-season, performance all-season and UHP all-season tires, Linkov does not equate brand with tire failure. Neither does NHTSA, which even goes so far as to say none of its definitions “implies that a particular tire problem caused the crash.”

In many ways, both the story and NHTSA point fingers at the consumer for poor tire maintenance. That’s where I believe the responsibility for the majority of tire failures belongs. Add in accidental tire failure (i.e., running over something that causes the tire to fail, and as such is generally no one’s fault) and it becomes apparent tire manufacturers are too often blamed for crashes and crash-related fatalities.

Speaking of those CR ratings, here’s a quick summary of the magazine’s recommended all-season tires. The cost-per-mile of each, based on the price of the tire and its limited tread wear warranty, is in parentheses.

All-season

1.Michelin Defender (13 cents)

2. Continental TrueContact (18 cents)

3. General Altimax RT43 (14 cents)

4. Pirelli P4 Four Seasons (10 cents)

Performance All-Season (H-rated)

1. Continental PureContact (21 cents)

2. Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus (15 cents)

3. Michelin Premier A/S (16 cents)

Performance All-Season (V-rated)

1. Continental PureContact (20 cents)

2. Michelin Premier A/S (18 cents)

3. Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus (17 cents)

UHP All-Season

1. Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ (28 cents)

2. Pirelli P Zero All Season Plus (25 cents)

3. Continental ExtremeContact DWS06 (31 cents)

4. BFGoodrich g-Force Comp-2 A/S (19 cents)

The tires are ranked by point total, with the overall score based on up to 14 tests.

Author

Bob Ulrich
Bob Ulrich

Editor, Retired

Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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