Saturday, September 12, 2009

Don't Forget the Firestone Recall of US-Made Tires

There has been some lively discussion about the punitive, 35% tariff on Chinese tires on several recent CD posts (here and here), and the safety and quality of tires from China has been debated. But as one anonymous commenter points out, there have been major safety concerns in the past with American-made tires, e.g. Firestone:

The Firestone tire recall is perhaps the most deadly auto safety crisis in American history. US regulators in October 2000 raised the death count to 119 (the death count has steadily risen from 62, later to 88 and 101 deaths reported on 9/20/2000). Experts believe there may be as many as 250 deaths and more than 3000 catastrophic injuries associated with the defective tires. Most of the deaths occur in accidents involving the Ford Explorer which tends to rollover when one of the tires blows out.


At 9/12/2009 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, but the Firestone recall was an isolated event by one company. The Chinese tires do not seem to be made to the same standards as U.S. tires by various companies.

Shoppers cannot make good decisions without all the information they need to make those decisions. For example, consumers expect to be able to compare e-rated tires and have them all meet the 3042-lbs-per- tire standard. Some tires are not reliably meeting that standard, and too many that are not are made in China.

As the world economy becomes more globalized, information will become increasingly important. I agree with Professor Perry, though, tariffs are not the answer to our current information gap.

At 9/12/2009 2:10 PM, Blogger KO said...

Oh, I had just mentioned that in one of the other posts. Guess I was a bit slow.

One other side effect of high tariffs (actual or threatened over the years), was the Japanese car manufacturers moving from small economy cars to larger cars and entering the luxury market.

It also resulted in them building plants in the US so the cars weren't imports.

At 9/12/2009 2:49 PM, Blogger juandos said...

I thought this Firestone recall was just a collection of ambulance chasers looking to make a buck by having the gullible on a juries across the country award large sums of money to supposed victims...

Then the little marxist conspiracy freaks over at the Konformist had their collective panties in a twist I noticed some very interesting similarities between the ambulance chasers claims and those of the Konformists...

It still leaves the question dangling, 'was Ford the problem or was it Firestone?'...

Or was it something else entirely?

At 9/12/2009 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Firestone issue was more about getting lawyers rich, not helping people. Using your number of 3000, Firestone made 18 million "defective" tires giving a significant injury risk of .016% per tire. And all this is based on the assumption that the problem was with Firestone and not the exhaust routing on the explorer. But I'd bet that every "failed" tire met the rating printed on the side of the tire.

Mark, tires mean different things to different people. Someone that drives a few miles a day and rarely goes over 35mph could care less about tires. As someone that bought tires for race converted motorcycles, the choice could be life or death.

At 9/12/2009 4:37 PM, Anonymous geoih said...

Quote from Walt: "Shoppers cannot make good decisions without all the information they need to make those decisions."

If this is a safety issue, then what is the function of the tariff? Is your point that we should allow unsafe tires on the road, as long as they cost more than other tires?

The tariff has nothing to do with safety. It's politics.

At 9/12/2009 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You have a good point. A tariff is just a sneaky tax. That does not solve a safety problem.

I was answering the cost/benefits title of an earlier post here. My point was that consumers might not be saving money by buying "cheaper" tires because there can be safety issues that can negate the savings. Consumers should be free to buy what they want, but they should know what they are buying. That is not happening now.

At 9/12/2009 6:18 PM, Anonymous Derek said...

I think there was legitimate issues at Firestone. I worked at a tire retailer that sold all tires including Firestone. All Firestone tires had separation (cracks between the 'cracks' in the treads) after a far shorter period that even remotely acceptable. This was about 5 years before the big scandal finally broke. I think they had issues and did little to correct them.

At 9/14/2009 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Tariff" is just a euphemism for "bail-out".

This is not about safety, it is about American companies not being able to compete against their Chinese counterparts. If this was about safety the Chinese tires should be banned from the American market, not made the subject of some random tax.

The bail-out will be paid for by everybody who is buying new tires while it only benefits those in the USA who are (still) making tires but deserve to be bankrupt (or at least less profitable).

See the works of Vilfredo Pareto.


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