A popular model of Goodyear tires for larger vehicles is under increased scrutiny after federal regulators discovered that they have been linked to nearly 100 deaths and injuries, but have never been recalled.
The Goodyear G159 275/70R 22.5, which is designed for RVs (recreational vehicles) but can be used on other vehicles as well, has been the subject of numerous lawsuits over the past 20 years, including most recently one by a shareholder who alleges that company brass have concealed the truth about the tires by crafting secret settlements.
Despite a string of incidents spanning from the late 1990s to as recently as 2015, the tire has only recently caught the attention of federal regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration informed Goodyear in April 2018 that it has launched an investigation to look into “allegations of tire failures,” and why the company didn’t enact a safety recall, which might have prevented some of the crashes.
In a summary of its probe after Goodyear responded with requested documentation, the NHTSA said, “Among many concerns, claimants contend the Goodyear G159 tires were allegedly not designed for extended use at highway speeds as would be experienced during motor home operation.”
The issues with the Goodyear G159 have been largely brought to light by Jalopnik.com, which has published a number of articles about them, including that Goodyear senior executives acknowledged that the tires had serious problems — and were linked to fatal crashes — but concealed that from the public.
The brouhaha harkens back to a Firestone tire controversy, centered on a product deemed so defective that it reduced the company’s worth. According to Jalopnik, the Goodyear G159, which failed on one of every 10 motorhomes, is even more flawed than the infamous Firestone tire implicated in hundreds of deaths and injuries.
Have Goodyear G159 tires? Here’s what you need to know
- How many tires are affected? The agency is investigating 40,000 G159 tires manufactured between 1996 and 2003, according to Jalopnik.com.
- Goodyear could possibly face a $105 million fine: NHTSA Interim Chief Heidi King told a congressional committee that if Goodyear is found to have “failed to report information required by law” it could face a huge fine.
- There’s potential for criminal liability: Also investigating the Goodyear tires is the Office of Inspector General with the U.S. Transportation Department, which is on record saying that “all allegations that appear to be criminal in nature will be presented to the Department of Justice for prosecutorial consideration.”
- Goodyear denies the tires are defective: “We continue to believe that there is no safety defect,” the company said in a written statement to the Wall Street Journal.