Goodyear G159 Motor Home Tires – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Probe

NHTSA Investigation to Determine Whether Some Older Goodyear Motor Home Tires Can Fail and Cause Accidents or Deaths

On January 2, 2017, The New York Times reported a story (“Regulators Open Probe of Goodyear Motor Home Tires Failures”) which stated:

U.S. safety regulators are investigating whether some older Goodyear motor home tires can fail and cause crashes and possibly deaths.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it began the probe after a court ordered the release of Goodyear data from lawsuits, which had been sealed under court orders and confidential settlement agreements.

According to the data, the G159 tires failed while in use, resulting in deaths and injuries. The agency says in documents posted Jan. 1 that the number of claims suggests the failures could be caused by a safety defect. Goodyear wasn’t required to report many of the claims to NHTSA under federal law.

Goodyear G159 Motor Home Tires – 40,000 Tires from 1996-2003

According to the aforementioned news article:

The investigation covers about 40,000 tires from 1996 to 2003.

The agency also received 10 complaints of tire failure, including two that caused crashes. The documents say Goodyear reported nine claims to the agency involving one death and 13 injuries. Some of those filing claims allege the G159 tires were not designed for extended highway use on motor homes.

Goodyear G159 Motor Home Tire Failures – “Finally Dragged Into the Public Eye”

Research disclosed a June 29, 2010 posting, “Goodyear G159 Tire Failures on RVs Finally Dragged Into the Public Eye,” which stated the following:

Goodyear’s G159 and a Class-A Motor Home was always a bad match. The tire was designed for urban delivery vehicles and speed-rated for only 65 mile per hour continuous use.  Nonetheless, Goodyear had marketed the G159 to the RV industry for nearly a decade in the 1990s and 2000s, even though the tire design was prone to overheat on RVs that typically travel at greater speeds for extended periods. Goodyear knew it was dangerous for motor homes, but didn’t want [to] lose a market segment. So, in 1998, after speed limits increased nationwide, Goodyear bumped the speed rating of the G159 to 75 miles per hour.

By 1999, there had been two recalls and one Product Service Bulletin to replace G159 tires on RVs, but the recalls blamed inadequate load margin and customer misuse, and did not identify the tire design itself as defective. In fact, Goodyear has consistently assured the public that the tires are safe for all uses.

That claim was officially refuted . . .  in a Pasco County, Florida Circuit Court, when the jury in Schalmo v. Goodyear handed the tiremaker 5.6 million reasons to stop insisting that a G159 was okay to install on an RV.  The jury found that the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company had sold a defective tire marketed to recreational motor home manufacturers, even though the tire was not suitable for RV use.

. . .

A failed Goodyear G159 was the cause of an August 11, 2004 crash that seriously injured the driver and two occupants. The tire was original equipment on a 2000 American Tradition motor home owned by John Schalmo of Port Richey, Florida. Schalmo was heading westbound on State Road 8 in Chipley, when the right-front tire of his motor home suffered a catastrophic tread separation. Schalmo lost control of the RV and veered off the right side of the roadway, heading out of control across an exit ramp and into a line of trees. Schalmo, and his wife’s parents William and Ruth McClintock, were seriously injured.  William McClintock lost both legs as a result of the crash; he died of unrelated causes two years before the trial.

This was the first G159 tire case to be resolved in a public trial. Goodyear has quietly settled as many as a dozen G159 tread separation cases involving serious injuries and deaths, in exchange for confidentiality. The Schalmo and McClintock families refused to agree to a confidential settlement, and have expressed their hope that Goodyear will recall the tire.

. . .

In a 2006 Fleet Owner magazine feature, a Goodyear marketing communications manager acknowledged that the G159 was a truck tire that had not been developed for RVs. That same year, Goodyear stopped selling the G159 and replaced it with a more robust tire specifically designed for motor home use.  But Goodyear has never recalled the all of the G159 tires already sold, and tens of thousands or perhaps more remain in the field.

Safety Issues & Recalls – Consumer Resource

Consumers can access the NHTSA’s “Safety Issues & Recalls” page to check VINs, vehicles, car seats, tires, and equipment by clicking here.

Kehoe Law Firm, P.C.