Consumer Reports Warns Counterfeit Chinese Tires Pose Consumer Risk

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SUV tires tested by CR underperform—and manufacturer disowns them; Investigation points to underlying issue of no accountability

Consumer Reports is cautioning consumers about Chinese-made tires after buying some for testing and discovering—after the fact—that they were counterfeits that are not being backed by the manufacturer.

The full report is available now at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/11/counterfeit-car-tires-pose-consumer-risk/index.htm

“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,” said Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations, Consumer Reports Auto Test Center.

Consumers who purchase counterfeit tires and have a problem with them will have little to no recourse. Until there is an actual safety complaint, NHTSA won’t order a recall of the tires – even if the owner claims they are counterfeit or otherwise unauthorized. However, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could launch an investigation and see if these tires are still being made and smuggled and would attempt to seize the counterfeit tires if it received an appropriate complaint.

What Consumer Reports Found
Consumer Reports recently included in its test program three different models of Chinese-branded all-season truck tires that cost as little as $89 apiece in its test size 265/70R17. All three landed at the bottom of the Ratings, in part because of their performance in CR’s winter tests for snow traction and ice braking, as well as so-so to poor tread life.

But the poor performance results in CR’s tests of Chinese-made Pegasus Advanta SUV tires, was questioned by the brand’s U.S. owner, American Pacific Industries (API). They said CR’s results were far below their own internal test results when it came to snow traction. Based on the tires’ date codes, it was determined the tires CR tested were not legitimate Pegasus Advanta SUV tires – as the factory that produced them was no longer a Pegasus authorized factory at that time. API claimed it doesn’t know for certain who made the suspect tires, or what types of materials or processes went into making that batch of tires, as different materials could account for a difference in tire performance.

Consumer Reports bought all 10 of the tested Pegasus Advanta SUV tires online at Tires-easy.com – an online retail tire outlet. In the event of a recall, the retailer said it has the ability to contact the customers that bought these tires, but recalls ultimately are the responsibility of the manufacturer. However, if the tires weren’t manufactured by API, the warranty would not apply.

Advice for Consumers
Consumer Reports’ long-standing advice when it comes to safety and performance is that consumers shouldn’t skimp on tires. Those who bought a set of Pegasus Advanta SUV tires should refer to the last four digits of the tire information number on the sidewall; tires with the final digits of 12 or higher indicate they were tires that API says they did not produce. Consumers who have concerns should contact their retailer and file a complaint via: http://www.iprcenter.gov/referral.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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NOVEMBER 2014
© 2014 Consumer Reports. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®, ConsumerReports.org® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

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Melissa Valentino
Consumer Reports/ ShopSmart
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