If you haven’t checked the tires on your car in a while, it may be time to take a look.
According to a new report released by the National Transportation Safety Board, the national system for recalling defective and potentially dangerous tires isn’t working too well — putting drivers in serious danger.
“Today’s report… uncovered several issues, some of which are systemic, that consumers cannot address on their own,” National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart said. “The current system for tire registration and recalls has proven ineffective.”
The risks on the road
According to the year-long NTSB study, only one in five defective tires are actually removed from the road through the current recall system in place.
Between 2009 and 2013, the NTSB says manufacturers recalled 3.2 million tires, but only 44% of them were actually taken off the road.
The rest — 56% of defective, recalled tires — are still on the road, according to the NTSB.
The group says more than 500 people were killed, and another 19,000 injured, just last year in tire-related accidents. Although it’s unclear exactly how many of those accidents involved recalled tires.
“Based on the work we did, that system is not working,” Rob Molloy, head of the NTSB investigations, said. “It is completely broken.”
What’s causing the ‘broken’ system
Part of the problem is being attributed to the lack of communication to drivers about specific recalls.
When a vehicle is recalled, the manufacturer contacts owners of any models that are impacted — and offers a fix. But tire dealers are not required to register the products they sell with the manufacturers, so manufacturers don’t know who to contact, because they don’t always know who owns the recalled tires.
Drivers can register their tires with the manufacturer, but the NTSB found that many people aren’t taking the time to do this, so they aren’t aware of recalls that could impact them.
Read more: Michelin recalls truck, RV tires
How to protect yourself
According to Consumer Reports, ‘Every tire has a Department of Transportation (DOT) number following the letters on the sidewall. The last four digits determine the week and year the tire was made; for example, the digits 2204 would signify that the tire was made during the 22nd week of 2004. Don’t buy tires more than a few years old.’
Experts recommend all drivers register their tires with the manufacturer, in order to be informed if their tires are ever impacted by a recall.