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More scrutiny of offshore tires may be needed, says RMA

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Commenting on Foreign Tire Sales Inc.'s (FTS) recall of up to 450,000 faulty Chinese-made light truck tires, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) says that increased scrutiny of tires coming in from offshore sources may be needed in the future.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered FTS, a Union, N.J.-based tire importer, to round up tires that were made for them by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. and sold under the Westlake, Telluride, Compass and YKS names.

"It's incumbent upon distributors to make sure there's a solid working relationship (with their products' manufacturers) and an acknowledgement of shared responsibility for the product if there is an issue," RMA spokesman Dan Zielinski told moderntiredealer.com.

"But let's remember that FTS didn't build the product."

An FTS spokesman says the company will pay to replace and dispose the tires in question, but the cost of those actions could force the firm into bankruptcy. FTS plans to have a remedy program in place by July 2.

FTS filed a Defect and Non-Compliance Report with NHTSA on June 11.

"For some period of time, these light truck radial tires were manufactured without a gum strip or with an insufficient gum strip between the belts or other construction to keep the belts from separating," said an FTS letter to the agency.

"When FTS first purchased these tires, they were manufactured with .6mm gum strips. At sometime, unknown to FTS, Hangzhou Zhongce manufactured tires without gum strips and then with .3mm strips. Such construction is susceptible to belt and/or tread separations."

Zielinksi said the RMA believes it's important for responsible parties -- in this case, FTS, which is the importer of record -- to be held accountable in the event of a recall.

"But there may need to be some scrutiny of these relationships" with off-shore tire manufacturers "when the responsible party may not have adequate resources to provide a remedy."

In addition, from a fairness standpoint, the RMA "wants to be sure that any off-shore manufacturer abides by the same regulations that any RMA member must abide by."

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