Tire Manufacturing Defects: Causes, Types and Outcomes

Tire Manufacturing Defects: Causes, Types and Outcomes

Tire failure isn’t the main reason for accidents on American roads, but it happens enough to be a big problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that tire failure is the cause of around 35% of accidents.

While there are multiple causes of tire failures, manufacturing defects can quietly lurk within the tires until they eventually lead to tread separation or blowouts.

In this article, we explore the common types of dangerous tire manufacturing defects that can be hazardous to drivers and other road users, as well as the potential outcomes of such defects. We’ll also provide some practical tips on how to check your tires’ safety levels before hitting the road.

Causes Of Tire Manufacturing Defects

Tire Blowout

Making tires for cars is a complex process, and tire manufacturers need to be super careful every step of the way so that their products don’t cause any problems.

Every tire maker follows its own set of steps that starts with picking out raw materials and goes all the way up to making sure quality control standards are being met. If a company isn’t doing a good job checking that everything’s going okay during production, it could end up with sneaky defects in the tires.

And sometimes, the cause of tire failures is tire manufacturing defects. Yes, sometimes tire manufacturers can mess up too.

If bonding doesn’t go right during production, if unwanted stuff finds its way inside a tire during manufacturing or if tires aren’t made from good-quality stuff or aren’t baked properly after being put together — all of these things could lead to tread separation and other tire failures down the line.

These hidden problems might show up right away when someone buys a new tire, or they might develop later on while it’s being used. Either way, they’ll make it harder for your car to perform well and be comfy to ride in.

Common Types of Dangerous Tire Defects

The Most Common Tire Manufacturing Defects

According to the research study “Characteristics and investigation of selected manufacturing defects of passenger car tires”, the most common tire manufacturing defects are the following:

  • Carcass embossing: During the process of baking and hardening a tire, sometimes the membrane that goes inside them to help hold the tire shape might be put in wrong. This can cause the fibers that make up the carcass (the skeleton of the tire) to break and pull apart.
  • Carcass rarefaction: Sometimes, the internal materials get stretched out too much during production and it leads to problems with how everything’s connected inside.
  • Open tread connection: When different parts of a tire come together during production, they have to be united really securely, If there are even small bits of dirt, oil or water getting between parts at this stage – like where the tread belt meets with other stuff in the tire – it could create serious issues down the line.
  • Tread separation in shoulder part: Same deal here as above, but this time we’re specifically talking about anywhere along a tire’s side that is close to its edge (aka its “shoulder”).
  • Belts separate under the tread: If the factory employees don’t make sure everything’s clean enough during production, water might get stuck in between layers of a tire and mess up its belts.
  • Belt alignment issues: Steel belts make a tire tougher, but sometimes they’re put on crooked or not correctly which puts more pressure on one part of the tire — that’s bad news for keeping everything together.
  • Open connection of the inner liner: Sometimes when tire layers get made into a tire, they don’t bond together properly and air or liquid gets inside where it shouldn’t be.
  • Separation in the bead area: Water or oil getting trapped inside parts of a tire while it’s being put together isn’t good either — this spot in particular can suffer from these kinds of mistakes.
  • Tread deformation: If someone messes up when storing a new tire before it gets used, it might get squished and change how it normally stays shaped.
  • Foreign object stamped during vulcanization: During manufacturing, anything unwanted that sticks to rubber components — like dirt or random pieces of stuff not supposed to be there — can impact how well those parts bond together.

The outcome of tire manufacturing defects

There are several potential outcomes of tire manufacturing defects, including:

  • Safety hazards: Manufacturing defects in tires make them more prone to blowouts, tread separation, and other performance issues. Such faults pose a considerable threat to the safety of passengers and other road users.
  • Reduced lifespan: Any manufacturing defects that affect the overall quality of a tire can reduce its expected lifespan or require earlier replacement.
  • Costly recalls: Tire companies may have to recall defective products that have reached the market, which means lost revenue and negative publicity for the company.
  • Litigation risks: If someone gets injured or killed due to tire manufacturing defects, product liability lawsuits can arise against the manufacturer.

What is a tire blowout?

Tire Blowout on an SUV

A tire blowout is something you really don’t want to happen. It’s a sudden and complete loss of air pressure from a tire. This can cause the tire to burst with a loud popping sound and may cause the car to swerve or lose control.

There are a few things that might cause a tire to blow out. For example, running a tire in an underinflated or overinflated state or overloading your car puts extra pressure on the tire, and in the end it can cause it burst.

But even tires that are properly maintained and in good shape can still have blowouts, especially if they get too hot or tire manufacturers didn’t follow good guidelines for quality.

What is a tire Tread Separation?

Tire Tread Separation
Photo Credits: Christopher Ziemnowicz

Tire tread separation is a dangerous condition in which the tire’s outermost layer (the tread) separates from the underlying layers.

This can occur due to manufacturing defects, improper maintenance or age-related wear and tear. When the tread separates, it can cause loss of control of the vehicle and lead to accidents.

What Is A Tire Recall?

A tire recall is when a tire manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determines that a particular brand or model of tire has a safety-related defect. The manufacturer is required to notify affected consumers and provide free repairs of the defective tire(s), usually through dealerships or authorized service centers.

The Issues With Tire Recalls

There are a few issues with how recalls work that makes things tricky:

  • There’s no one good way to keep track of everybody who has a particular brand or type of tire.
  • Tire brands have lots of different codes to show if they’re part of a recall, which can make things confusing.
  • Recall information sometimes gets sent out by third-rate mail, which might mean some people won’t ever see it. Especially those who move to another place.
  • Some service centers might not keep up-to-date records on recalls.

Tire Safety Tips

  • If the rubber on the tire’s tread is less than 2/32 of an inch thick, it’s considered bald. Most tires have little markers built-in that tell you when they’re worn out. These markers (called “treadwear indicators”) are raised parts in between the grooves of the tire. When they stick up just as high as the regular tread, then your tires are too worn and need to be replaced.
Tire treadwear Indicator
  • To get an idea of how much tread you have left without using these markers: put a penny upside-down so Lincoln’s head is pointing towards you right in one of the big grooves. If his head is visible above the surface and not tucked into any grooves, it’s time for some new wheels!
Tire Penny test
Tire Age Limit
  • So how can you tell when your tire was manufactured? Look for the Department of Transportation or DOT code on the sidewall of the tire. The code starts with “DOT” and ends with the week and year of manufacture. For example, if the code ends with “1914,” it means the tire was made in the 19th week of 2014.
Tire DOT Code