Analysis of a failed tire indicated that there was substantial heat build up within the #1 belt compound that revealed itself when the #2 tread and belt detached from the #1 belt 360 degrees circumferentially around the tire. (The detached tread and belt had not been picked up at the site of the tire failure and was not available for inspection.) The heat build up was readily visible by the deep blues and purples present.

In addition, the tire had a substantial (width) belt edge separation on one side of the SS of the #1 belt, with polishing and embrittlement of the rubber and a very small belt edge separation on the opposite side. In one location the belt edge separation had grown across the centerline of the tire in a parabolic shape and was joined by a smaller parabolic separation from the other side. At this location the tread and #2 belt were 100% separated from the #1 belt and this is where the initial tread separation flaps formed leading to the complete tread / belt detachment.

The remaining tread shoulder elements on the SS of the tire were worn out (0 / 32) in the shoulder slots, yet the two tread blocks remaining on the OSS side had 4 / 32 remaining. Further analysis indicated that the compression grooves were severe on the SS and moderate to severe on the OSS. The tread belt detachment had been somewhat smooth with good tread separation flap development and a classic thick skim / thin skim rubber development across the centerline. The inspection suggested that the tire failed from severe and chronic overdeflection with accelerating inputs being the mechanical vehicle camber type wear, and high heat probably from running over-deflected and some higher speed (highway speeds).

Plaintiff's expert suggested that the tire failed from a lack of adhesion between the brass coated steel wires in the belt and rubber compound. There was a brassy type coloration visible within the thin half of the tread belt detachment, and this was the crux of his argument.

Consultant's analysis of this argument was two fold : First, that the #1 belt was entirely attached to the casing (no loose wires within the rubber matrix anywhere) and secondly within a manufacturing environment it was physically and chemically impossible to have a lack of adhesion at the brass laminate / rubber bonding layer only on the very top of the #1 wire (picture a circular wire and only poor adhesion on the upper half of the circle only) and only on half of the belt width for 360 degrees of the circumference.

The matter settled out of court; however, this brings to the forefront the need for tire forensic experts to be knowledgeable about the manufacturing process, quality, and testing and design parameters of tires. It is with this type of experience that the expert can make informed judgments of all the possibilities and nuances that lead to tire failure.

To see the resume of the expert associated with this case study, see the link below.

Resume of VTO Tire Forensics, Quality, Tire Accident Expert Consultant Resume

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Peter Habicht, Lead Consultant
Peter specializes in welding and metallurgical engineer with 40 years industry experience in commercial nuclear power plant construction.


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