TRACKING THE CONTITRAC
Weather in the Southwest will be warming significantly over the next month or so, and with the hot weather comes a dramatic increase in the number of vehicle accidents related to tire failures. (By the way, if you were unaware that VMAR conducts tire failure investigations . . . well . . . we most definitely do!)
Those of you who have been around a while will remember the Firestone Wilderness AT debacle (major recall of more than 14 million tires that nearly wiped out Firestone).
We have what we believe is a similar situation occurring with the Continental Contitrac line of tires. We make this statement because in the past year or so we have investigated an unusually high number of accidents where a defect in a Contitrac "SUV" or "TR" tire resulted in a catastrophic tire failure, leading to vehicle rollover. Three of these investigations were concluded in the past two months.
In all cases the nature of the failure (breaker edge separation) was remarkably similar to the failure mode exhibited in the Wilderness AT tires. Although certain Contitrac "AW", "BSW", and "TR" tire are currently subject to recall for a defect that can lead to tread separation (NHTSA #05T022000) the Contitrac "SUV" tires are not yet subject to recall, even though the number of consumer complaints (and accidents) are numerous.
When we discovered that Wilderness AT tires were failing at unusually high rates back in the late 90's, we alerted our clients and were vindicated when the recall was announced about six months after our warning went out. We believe the Contitrac tires today are exhibiting extremely high failure rates, similar to what was observed in the Wilderness AT case eight years ago. Therefore, we strongly recommend that our clients immediately replace any existing Continental Contitrac tires on their personal vehicles with another brand of tire.
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