Goodyear Recalling 40915 Wrangler Silent Armor Flagship Tires

Goodyear is recalling 40,915 Wrangler Silent Armor flagship tires. The recall comes after the unfortunate deaths of two Texas college students on August 11, 2011.

Matthew Smith and Kerrybeth Hall were traveling in Smith’s 2008 Ford F-150 pickup south on U.S. Highway 67 in Pecos County, Texas when the left rear tire de-treaded, causing the pickup to skid and roll over. Both Smith and Hall sustained fatal injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recorded Goodyear as having knowledge of increased property and warranty damage claims since as early as May 2010. For the next twelve months, records show that the claims continued to rise and involved six specific sized tires produced in Goodyear’s Fayetteville plant.

Even with all of the increases of claims, Goodyear still never announced a recall. Instead they brushed them off as isolated cases caused by “stone drilling damage and other external damage to the tires.”

David T. Bright, an attorney with Sico, White, Hoelscher & Braugh of Corpus Christi, Texas represents Hall’s mother in a civil case against Goodyear. Attorney Bright said, ” Goodyear waited another 12 months, and decided: Hang on. Let’s wait a while longer. And three months later, these two people got killed.”

Goodyear’s Fayetteville Plant:

Remember, I said earlier that increase of claims concerned six specific tires that were manufactured in Goodyear’s Fayetteville plant? Well, it turns out that fifteen employees of the Fayetteville plant were arrested in an undercover raid back in March 2010 (just two months before Goodyear’s warranty review revealed higher than usual claim rates).

The March 30, 2010 raid resulted in the arrests of 15 employees. Records indicate that they were trafficking cocaine, marijuana, Ecstasy, opium and other prescription drugs out of the plant. A total of 69 charges were filed.

“Is it a coincidence that Goodyear only recalled tires made at the Fayette plant during the same time period as when police were conducting a big undercover drug operation?” asked Bright’s co-counsel, John Gsanger of the Edwards Law Firm, also in Corpus Christi. “The busts came 10 months after the recall period. They were selling marijuana and opium. It wasn’t a lemonade stand; obviously it was going on in March and May of 2009.”

Rumors circulated that the Fayetteville plant had a reputation as a den of drug dealers that preceded Sheriff Earl Butler’s tenure with the Cumberland County Sheriff Department. New reports stated that Sheriff Butler had waited his entire career as the head of the county’s law enforcement to infiltrate the Fayetteville plant. “Shortly after I came into office 16 years ago, we tried to do something out here,” Butler said. He went on to say, “we knew at the time that there were drugs in the plant and we haven’t been able to get anyone inside,” he told WTVD.

Goodyear- Speaking Out Both Sides of Their Mouths!

As I mentioned earlier, Goodyear is alleging that the claims are a result of “stone drilling damage and other external damage to the tires.” (Stone drilling is when stones become stuck in the grooves and damage the thread of a tire.) This excuse is a clear contradiction to Goodyear’s own marking campaign. Some of their marketing language is as follows:

“Are you looking for on and off-road all terrain tires?”

“Are you only interested in buying tires that are safe, durable, and will provide you with the most comfortable ride possible?”

The rubber compound is molded at the base of the tread grooves in an effort to increase resistance to stone and rock drilling, which is a plus.” [emphasis added]

“There are also rim guards to protect the wheels from accidental on and off road hazards.”

“These tires really will take you anywhere and you never have to worry about your safety or the durability of the tires!”

Clearly, Goodyear is promoting these tires for off-road terrain and claiming that the tire protects from off-road hazards…question is….did they not realize that there were stones on off-road terrain?

Red Flag Ignored?

If NHTSA was aware of the increase in claims regarding these tires, why didn’t they do something? What’s the point in Early Warning Data if it’s not going to be taken seriously?

In Goodyear’s Part 573 Defect and Noncompliance Report to NHTSA, they claim to have continued to monitor the early warning data for the first three quarters of 2011 and conducted inspections of several returned tires, but found no safety issue with these tires.

Even after the deaths of Smith and Hall, Goodyear still claimed to find “…no safety issues with these tires….” But, don’t fret- they are “determined, in the interest of customer satisfaction, to conduct a customer satisfaction campaign for these tires in January 2012.”

In closing, if you have these tires on your vehicle, take your car in to the shop today. Don’t be the next victim of a failed tire!