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Tread Separation: More Than a Gust of Wind

September 14, 2009 by markarndt

An expert made a statement about tire detreading. He said, “The vehicle gets pulled left only about a foot, in an orientation of one to two degrees, like a gust of wind.” His answer implied there was little danger and as evidence he referred to a paper I had written. Attorney Mikal Watts of the Texas law firm, Watts Guerra Craft asked what I thought about the response given the extensive amount of research and testing our company has done on this topic.

Stated simply, the statement is wrong in its content and it is wrong in it’s context. The current state of knowledge on the consequences of tire tread separation events (tire detreads) is substantially greater than indicated.

First, when tires fail they fail in a variety of ways creating a broad distribution of response that depend upon the nature of the tread separation, the vehicle and the driving environment. In other words, there is not just one type of tire failure and there isn’t just one response associated with tire failures.

Having stated above, one question might be – which paper supposedly describes his response, “like a gust of wind?” The answer is none. In fact, a tread separation event is always described as including vibration, noise and turning of the vehicle and the event has associated adverse changes in vehicle handling. Not even a gust of wind has vibration and pulling. And, the associated adverse change in vehicle handling makes any vehicle dangerous. Driving at highway speeds with a detreaded tire and gusty wind substantially magnifies the danger and chances of a crash.

The numerous papers (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2006, 2009) I have written on tread separation demonstrate by scientific methods that all tire tread separations cause violent vibration of the tire/wheel and perceptible yet unspecific vibrations of the vehicle. Tire tread separations cause sudden and startling loud noise or noises from the separating tread hitting portions of the car and ground. Tire tread separations cause an external pulling of the vehicle — in other words the vehicle turns without the driver turning the steering (hand) wheel. Pulling could be minor or could force a vehicle off the road. Finally, steering characteristics are degraded and in incidents involving rear tires a vehicle oversteer characteristic results.


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