Recall will encompass fewer tires than originally anticipated, says FTS owner

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Foreign Tire Sales Inc.'s (FTS) pending recall of allegedly defective light truck tires made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. will encompass around 250,000 units, not up to 450,000 units, FTS owner Richard Kuskin has told

The smaller quantity of tires also means the cost of the recall will be significantly less, according to Kuskin.

Original estimates set the cost of recalling up to 450,000 tires at a ceiling of $80 million. Now Kuskin says the recall will probably cost less than $20 million.

FTS plans to recall light truck radials made by Hangzhou that were sold under the Westlake, Compass and YKS labels.

The tires were manufactured in three different phases, Hangzhou, through its Washington, D.C.-based law firm, told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) in a July 11 letter.

During the second phase of construction, Hangzhou officials made the decision to not include a gum strip in the tires. They say steel belts in the tires "were thicker" than those used by peer tires, and that the thicker layer of rubber resulted in superior belt adhesion, "without reliance on gum strips."

Kuskin says FTS is only recalling tires made during that second phase.

Phase one tires include a gum strip, say Hangzhou officials. Phase three tires contain "belt gum wedges" between belts and nylon edge strips on the tires' shoulder, "completely different than the (gum strip) used in phase one."

A lawyer for FTS says the Union, N.J.-based importer did not know of the three production phases until Hangzhou's July 11 letter to NHTSA.

Hangzhou says that tires from all three production phases "were validated for complete compliance with the applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (requirements) before being released for serial production."

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