Consumers should be on the lookout for counterfeits when they're purchasing new vehicle tires, Consumer Reports warns, after the non-profit independent testing organization recently uncovered hundreds of tires that had been imported into the U.S. and are not backed by the manufacturer. Those tires might not perform as expected, and they won't be covered under warranty.
Consumer Reports says it recently tested three models of all-season truck tires made in China that cost as little as $89 each. All three brands landed at the bottom of its testing report, but the poor performance of the Pegasus Advanta was questioned by the brand's U.S. owner, American Pacific Industries, or API, which complained the group's testing was far below its own internal testing for snow traction.
After looking at the date codes on the tires, API realized the tires were counterfeit and were produced at a factory that was no longer an authorized production facility. API says it did not know who made the tires or the materials or processes used as a result.
Purchased at a single online retailer
All of the tires Consumer Reports purchased were bought online at Tires-easy.com. The retailer says in the event of a recall, it has the ability to contact the customers that bought the tires. The problem is that recalls are issued by the manufacturer, and in this case, the manufacturer has no record of these particular tires being produced. This also means that any warranty claims would be denied.
"It’s deeply troubling to learn that hundreds of all-season truck tires can be imported into the United States and sold through an online retailer that aren’t backed by a manufacturer, and can’t be recalled in the event that some safety issue is identified," says Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations, Consumer Reports Auto Test Center.
How to check your tires
Consumers who purchased Pegasus Advanta tires should check the last four digits of the tire code on the sidewall for the number 12 or higher, which are the tires API says it did not produce. Tire owners who are concerned their tires are counterfeit should contact the retail outlet from which they were purchased, as well as file a complaint with the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.
If you are buying new tires for your car, make sure to complete the Department of Transportation tire registration card that came with the tires. This will help ensure you are notified in the event of a recall. Tires usually can be registered at the manufacturer's website as well. Make sure to keep your receipt and original paperwork from the tire purchase, in the event you need to file a claim.
Before you go tire shopping read How to choose new tires for your car.
Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.