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Thursday, July 05, 2007

NJ Importer Submits Plan for Tire Recall

Chinese-Made Light Truck Tires Prone to Tread Separation

Foreign Tire Sales Inc., recently ordered to recall thousands of light truck radial tires that were purchased from a Chinese manufacturer, said it had submitted a recall plan to the federal government, and hopes to begin the recall July 16. The small tire importing company, based in Union, N.J., said it would soon release details of the plan on its Web site,, and plans to implement an 800 number for consumers and dealers.

According to a company spokesman, procedures are being set up to replace tires for free and to render the recalled ones unusable.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must approve the plan before the recall can start. It could involve up to 450,000 possibly unsafe tires.

According to a spokeswoman for the agency, Heather Hopkins, it had received the plan and is reviewing it.

The safety administration recently notified Foreign Tire Sales that the company must recall the tires, and if it doesn't remedy the problem, it faces penalties of up to $6,000 per violation, with a maximum of nearly $16.4 million. Also joining the investigation is the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.

In a statement, Foreign Tire Sales said that its tire engineer concluded that the company "was being sold tires that did not meet our own standards and posed a safety hazard."

Manufactured by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Company, the tires in question were made without a safety feature that helps bind the belts of a tire, and could suffer tread separation. They were sold under the brand names Westlake, Compass and YKS between mid-2002 and mid-2006.

The company, which has only 13 full-time and three part-time employees, said that because the manufacturer is not assisting, the recall is jeopardizing the "very existence" of Foreign Tire.

"FTS will make every effort to locate, identify and replace all of the affected tires it imported into the United States," the statement said. "FTS has gone the extra mile in its testing and subsequent early notification of a possible problem."

All tires in question bear the letters "LT" for the tire size, plus DOT numbers starting with "7D" and ending in "02," "03," "04" or "05."

Foreign Tire Sales believes that the Chinese company sold the same tires to other companies.

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