Goodyear is under criminal investigation for its handling of an RV tire recall campaign that started in 2022. The campaign focused on the Goodyear G159, a tire originally produced between 1996 and 2003, after an investigation revealed multiple cases of tread detachment leading to accidents. which were fatal. By the Associated Pressit’s not yet clear why the grand jury is gathering evidence, but it’s likely an attempt to determine whether Goodyear acted in good faith regarding the defect – the company claims it did – when it first learned of the problem , said to be as far back as 2002.
NHTSA’s initial investigation into the Goodyear G159 began in 2017 when a lawsuit was filed alleging safety flaws led to motorhome accidents that resulted in the deaths and injuries of their occupants. Goodyear began cooperating with NHTSA’s investigation in 2018, but ultimately declined to issue a recall. Reminiscent of the infamous Firestone campaign of the 1990s, Goodyear insisted that the tires were not faulty, but used outside of the prescribed operating conditions, citing examples of customers over-inflating and/or under-inflating their tyres. Goodyear says the motorhome manufacturers have also failed to specify proper reserve loads.
In its statement to the AP, Goodyear said the G159 consistently met the company’s “demanding” safety standards. To compound the problem, the tire had been out of production for nearly two decades; virtually eliminating the possibility that one could be encountered in a retail environment. But after further pressure, Goodyear agreed to launch a recall to address any tires that may have slipped through the cracks.
Certain size 275/70R22.5 G159 tires installed on RVs experienced tread separations and other failures when subjected to “market segment conditions, including overload and underinflation,” according to Goodyear’s Defect Notice. “The estimated population of these tires is undetermined. Production of the affected tire ended in January 2003. This Part 573 report is submitted to address concerns that some of these size 275/70R22.5 G159 tires may still be in continue to use.”
NHTSA claims that Goodyear was aware of the problem before the tire went out of production, which would have prompted a recall as far back as 2002. progress from the 2017 lawsuit.