NHTSA orders Foreign Tire Sales to recall Chinese-made tires

June 27, 2007

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered Foreign Tire Sales Inc. (FTS), a Union, N.J.-based tire importer, to recall up to 450,000 light truck radials the company purchased from Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. and sold through its network of independent tire distributors.

The tires were sold under the Westlake, Telluride, Compass and YKS brand names. Sizes to be recalled include: LT235/75R15 (CR861 and CR857); LT225/75R16 (CR861); LT235/85R16 (CR860,CR861 and CR857); LT245/75R16 (CR861 and CR857); LT265/75R16 (CR860, CR861 and CR857); and LT31x10.5-15 (CR857 and CR861).

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 the letter.

"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."

FTS stopped buying the tires in June 2006. "The percentage of tires currently containing the non-conformity is unknown." The number of tires that have already been removed from service also is unknown.

NHTSA has ordered FTS to provide a remedy program by July 2. Larry Lavigne, a member of Norris, McLaighlin and Marcus, the Bridgewater, N.J.-based law firm that's representing FTS, says the importer will set up an 800 number for consumers and its distributors. (FTS doesn't maintain a warehouse, according to Lavigne, but direct ships to customers instead.) In addition, he says NHTSA will post information on its www.foreigntire.com Web site later today, June 27.

"As we notify our customers, we'll pay for the switching out of tires, the transportation of the tires, and the disposal of the tires."

Earlier today, NHTSA told moderntiredealer.com that the importer of record "is the responsible entity" in cases such as this.

Last summer, two people were killed and another severely injured when their van rolled over after a Hangzhou Zhongce-built Telluride tire separated.