Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has reportedly denied allegations of a defect in RV tires which are being investigated by federal regulators. The company’s tires have been linked to scores of accidents that have left at least nine people dead and dozens injured.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been looking into claims for months that a certain Goodyear tire—the G159 275/70R 22.5—was prone to heat-induced failures when used on motorhomes. The agency sent a letter this week requesting information over G159 failures that were reported over nearly 20 years.
On Wednesday, Jalopnik reported that NHTSA has evidence of failure claims made as far back at 1996—the first year the tire went into production and was used on RVs—and as recently as 2015. The agency’s probe covers 40,000 G159 tires made between 1996 and 2003. A previous investigation by Jalopnik reported that Goodyear faced at least 41 lawsuits over the G159, settling nearly every dispute with protective orders that prevented victims from sharing information with other plaintiffs or even regulators.
“We continue to believe that there is no safety defect,” the company told the Journal.
NHTSA’s letter asks Goodyear for specific information that outlines what the company knew about G159 performance issues and when. It was sent to Goodyear a day before an Arizona state court judge, John Hannah, unsealed several documents in a case last year that pertains to the G159.
Judge Hannah vacated a protective order in the case following a request from the Center for Auto Safety Group, an industry watchdog.
“That information—primarily concerning the tire’s design, its testing, the decision to market it for use on motor homes, and the adjustment data generated by consumer experience with it—should be made public because it relates to and reveals a substantial potential risk to public health or safety,” Hannah wrote.
The documents include a 29-page letter sent last year by attorney David Kurtz, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, to NHTSA, requesting an investigation of the G159. The letter spells out years of evidence obtained by Kurtz, who also has a federal case against Goodyear over the G159 that remains ongoing.