Published on:

Beware the Spare: For Those Unaware Disaster Lurks There

Florida drivers need to be aware that the spare tire may be a hidden time bomb. Heat is a factor that makes tire failures more prevalent in Florida. When old tires heat up, the likelihood of a catastrophic tire failure increases.

There have been repeated cases throughout the country and in Florida, involving failures of tires which look brand new but are chronologically so old that the rubber properties have deteriorated so that the tires fail shortly after being placed into service.

Some of these tires have even been tires that have been the subject of previous recalls. How does this set-up for tragedy occur? In many cases, the tire in question was originally a spare tire while the tires in service were repeatedly changed out. Over a period of many years the spare tire inconspicuously remained unused in the spare wheel position. Ultimately, the spare is placed into service with deep unused tread and the appearance of newness. In fact, the qualities of the tire rubber may have deteriorated to such an extent that the component parts of the tire do not remain unified and the tire experiences a tread separation resulting in a rollover.

The old age of a spare tire may be further compounded by exposure to sun or the heat of the muffler or exhaust pipe depending on the vehicle design for the storage of the spare tire. Accordingly, tire service companies need to be acutely aware of the dangers that lurk in the use of a spare. Many tire experts recommend that a tire, even if unused, be taken out of service six years after its date of manufacture.

At Jay Halpern and Associates, we have handled numerous tire failure cases involving an unused but old spare tire that broke apart in a tread separation shortly after being placed into service. One such a case involved two young men in their early twenties who are killed when their SUV rolled over following a tread separation of a spare tire that appeared brand new, but in fact, was ten years old, and had been the subject of a recall. Until tire manufacturers place conspicuous and understandable information and warnings on the tire about the date of manufacture, we believe that responsibility for these tragic events rests with tire manufacturers and tire service companies.