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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Recalled Tires May Be A "Time Bomb" On Your Car

Are you driving on a recalled tire? You may not know it. Even more disturbing -- the experts may not know it either.

Some call it a flaw in the U.S. recall system. One woman's life was changed forever... when she took a ride on a tire that had been recalled years earlier -- and no one told her.

Carolyn Thorne says she had no idea she was driving a rolling "time bomb" when a tire on her suv suddenly ripped apart, triggering a rollover at 65 miles an hour. "All I heard was a popping sound, and the next thing I knew, I am flipping," she said

The accident left Thorne partially paralyzed. She won multi-million dollar legal settlements with the tire maker and dealers that cared for the car.

Thorne's story hightlights a disturbing reality. The tire that blew out on her car should not have been on the road at all, it had been recalled 2 years before the rollover.

Millions of recalled tires just like it have not been returned and are still on the road today.

"It's very easy to have recalled tires on your car and not even know it." Sean Kane works as an auto safety consultant who has studied the tire recall process, and was also an un-paid consultant on Thorne's case. He says only 20 percent of all recalled tires are actually found. He says even tire professionals have trouble determining which tires are recalled. "The reason we don't know where they are is because there is no tracking mechanism or identification system that works. The tire recall system is just clearly broken," Kane said.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is the federal agency that oversees tire recalls. A spokesman says the agency agrees that tire return rates are too low and more needs to be done to get recalled tires off the road, but did not say what should be done.

Kane says finding recalled tracking numbers on tires is difficult and retailers don't have a database to make sure people are driving safe tires.

That was a shock to Carolyn Thorne, who believed tire mechanics would spot the danger. "I trusted my life in the hand of so-called experts to make sure nothing like this would happen to me. But it did, the system failed."

So while the recall system may be "broken", there is still information out there. The U.S. government keeps a database of all car equipment that has been recalled, including tires. You just have to find it yourself.

Terry Wood -

You can find recalls by visit

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