From Detroit News
A distributor of Chinese-made tire valve stems has agreed to recall 6 million valve stems, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Tech International, a Johnstown, Ohio-based distributor of the Chinese-made parts, announced a recall of 6 million TR413 model valve stems, offering free replacements and to pay for any tire damage caused by the defective part, according to a June 2 letter made public on NHTSA’s Web site.
But Tech International doesn’t know who actually owns tires with the recalled tire valve stems and said it believes just 8,600 of the stems or less than 1 percent are defective. The valves are manufactured by Shanghai Baolong Industries Co.
"Tech International does not know the identity of any end-users of the TR413 valves and has no realistic method of determining the identity of such individuals. Furthermore, there is no realistic method for Tech International to identify the production dates of any specific TR413 valves," the company said in its letter to NHTSA.
The distributor will notify tire retailers of the recall.
The Chinese manufacturer conducted tests that showed that no valve stem produced after November 2006 was faulty, Tech International said.
In its recall notice, Tech International said that the stems could crack and tires could gradually lose pressure after they had been in use for more than six months. It said it first received notice of "a small number of potential valve stem failures" from a distributor in January.
Safety advocates on Thursday urged motorists to inspect their valve stems for cracks and to check tire pressure.
"Air loss at highway speeds may result in a tire failure and loss-of-control crash," said Sean Kane, president of Safety Research and Strategies.
He said it was questionable whether Tech’s estimate of 8,600 faulty valve stems was accurate.
A lawyer for Tech International didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
In a separate move, NHTSA has opened a preliminary investigation into another 30 million Chinese-made "snap-in" tire valve stems in the wake of a Nov. 11 fatal crash. Those valve stems may have come out of the same Chinese factory that made the recalled vales stems distributed by Tech International, safety advocates said.
NHTSA’s investigation follows the death of Robert Monk of Orlando, Fla., who was killed when the right rear tire of his 1998 Ford Explorer failed, triggering a rollover crash.
Kane said the tire failure has been linked to a cracked Dill TR413 valve stem manufactured by Topseal, a subsidiary of Shanghai Baolong Dill Air Control Products, LLC.
In March, the Monk family filed suit against North Carolina-based Dill Air Control Products, alleging that the defective tire valve stem caused the crash.
"The Monk family wants to get the message out there to ensure that no one else is hurt," said Richard Newsome, an attorney with the Newsome Law Firm in Orlando, Fla.
On April 30, after receiving notice of the Monk crash, Dill officials met with NHTSA to discuss the problem.
On May 2, Dill sent a Technical Bulletin to major tire retailers advising them that the company had received complaints of surface cracks appearing on the outside of the rubber near the rim hole in several models.
"When the rubber is exposed to high levels of ozone as it is being stressed, surface cracks can appear. High speeds and an unsupportive rim profile allow the rubber valve to flex at a greater angle and may cause these cracks to propagate, leading to a slow leak of air," the bulletin said.
Dill officials told NHTSA that valves made from July 2006 to November 2006 may leak from cracks caused by ozone exposure.
Brian Rigney, general manager at Dill, didn’t return a call seeking comment.