HOUSTON - Local 2 Investigates the timing and scope of a major tire recall.
Did Goodyear sit on information that could have saved lives? It's what one Houston attorney wants to know after learning Goodyear knew there was something wrong with the type of tire on his client's truck when it flipped, killing both people inside.
Goodyear announced this week it is recalling more than 40,000 Wrangler Silent Armor tires. They were sold in six sizes and are made for light trucks, vans and SUVs.
But it's information that came about seven months too late for 21-year-old Matthew Smith. One minute, the east Texas college student was driving down the road with a friend. The next, his truck veered off the highway and rolled over.
Smith and his passenger both died.
"From the very beginning, the police identified the tire as having suffered tread separation," said Rob Ammons, Smith's family's attorney.
The accident happened in August 2011, but Ammons just learned that Goodyear recognized in May 2011 that warranty returns and property damage claims were higher than usual for certain Wrangler Silent Armor tires. In short: Goodyear realized something was wrong.
"By May of 2011, they know they have a problem with these tires, and what did they do for three months?" Ammons asked.
Goodyear has recalled six sizes of the Wrangler Silent Armor tires, but only those made between March and May of 2009. A Goodyear representative said by phone the company doesn't know yet what it is about tires made in this 13-week time frame that makes the tread more likely to separate.
Ammons said it's information all drivers need to know.
"Information is key," he said. "You have to share what information you have with the public."
Ammons said that even if you don't have the tires, this recall affects every driver on the road.
"If I lose control, we don't know where my vehicle is going to go," he explained. "The same is true for all of us."
Drivers who have Wrangler Silent Armor tires on their vehicle need to look for the 12-digit tire identification number on the side of the tires. If it matches the tires under recall, drivers can take their vehicle to any Goodyear service store to have them replaced at no cost. There is also a 1-800 Goodyear number that you can call for information, or visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute's website.
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