Monday, September 1, 2008

Important! Tire Valve Stem Safety Recall

Serious Consumer Safety Issue

As many as 30 million tires on the road in the United States are at risk of blowing out. Having a tire blow out, while driving at 65 MPH in heavy traffic, can cause a serious,
even fatal accident. It is what we, in the old days, used to refer to as an "E ticket ride".

The issue, this time, is potentially defective rubber tire
valve stems.

It is well known in the industry that "flex cracks" in valve stems are indicative of a weakness in the valve stem which may fail suddenly while driving and in turn can cause tires to
lose air quickly, and such air loss at highway speeds can result in tire failure and a loss-of-control crash.

The valves have been recalled, but in spite of that you may have them on your car.

On November 11, Robert Monk of Orlando, Fla. died when the right rear tire of his 1998 Ford Explorer suddenly failed, causing him to lose control and culminating in a rollover
crash. The cause of the accident, a lawsuit alleges, was a weakened, cracked tire valve which failed prematurely causing a sudden loss of tire pressure.

This is what a TR413 valve stem looks like

TR413 valve stem showing crack

Several models of valve stems

The tire which was installed in the fall of 2006, is alleged to have been installed along with a new Dill TR-413 valve stem manufactured by a subsidiary of Shanghai Baolong
Industries for Dill Air Control Products. In March, the Monk family filed suit against Dill Air Control Products, alleging that the defective tire valve stem
caused the crash.

Dill has told NHTSA that as many as 30 million of the suspected valve stems have been distributed in the North American market. The suspect valve stems identified
by Dill include its TR-413, TR-413 chrome, TR-414, TR-415, TR-418 and TR-423, which were manufactured between August 2006 and November 2006. (The valve stem is a rubber
tube with a metal valve used to inflate the tire with air.)

"If you've had new tires installed after 2005, there's a chance that your tire valves are affected by the recall," said Don Mays with Consumer Reports.

Mays checked cars in the staff parking lot and found more than one with a problem, "This crack leaked air slowly, resulting in a flat tire. But at highway speeds,
you could have sudden air loss, and that can be a serious problem."

So how can you tell if your tire has one of these valves? It's not easy. At a minimum, Consumer Reports says check your tire pressure at least once a month and inspect the
valve for any cracks. Flex the valve out towards the tire and rotate it, looking for any cracks along the stem. A flashlight can be helpful. A good valve has no cracks.
If you do find a crack, go to your tire dealer and make sure all four tire-valve stems are replaced, not just the known defective one.

Most consumers will have a have a hard time figuring out if they have any of the defective valve stems on their vehicle, however. That's because once the valve
stems are installed in the wheels, the only way to check to see if it is one of the recalled stems is to dismount the tire from the wheel and inspect the base of the valve
from the inside of the wheel.

Once they are out of the box there is no tracking for these products so it is unlikely that all owners will be notified of the recall. Any motorist who has had a tire
replaced since January 2006 would be well advised to immediately return to the tire dealer to have their valves inspected for signs of cracking.

Eugene Petersen, program leader for tire testing at Consumer Reports, says the difficulty in identifying the faulty valve stems represents a real problem for consumers.
"I can't imagine tire shops or service centers would have kept any records on any valve stems they may have installed on a vehicle," says Petersen. "That apparently
means the tire will have to be removed from the wheel to identify the manufacturer of the valve stem. That brings you to the question of who will pay for all this."

Your tire dealer is the person to ask that question of. The dealer will know if they have used Dill Valves during the period in question. Also if your valve stems
were replaced it probably, but not certainly, will show on your invoice copy.

Dill Air Controls Products, LLC, a company newly formed in 2005, is located in Oxford, NC. Dill was formerly Air Control Products, a division of Eaton Corporation
in Roxboro, North Carolina and was purchased by the Chinese companies, Shanghai Baolong Industries Co. Ltd. and Zhongding Group Ltd. Dill manufacturers automotive
air valves and valve parts in addition to products for the U.S. Government, NASA, and the aircraft industry.

To learn more about the takeover of Dill,

click here.

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