State News

Goodyear Warns Some School Bus Tires May be Unsafe

Posted February 12, 2007 9:24 a.m. EST
Updated February 12, 2007 4:43 p.m. EST

— Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has warned North Carolina officials that some tires used on school buses may have mislabeled inflation labels, which could lead to unsafe air levels.

Goodyear said the state's retread contractor, White's Tire Service of Wilson, stamped inaccurate information on some reworked Goodyear bus tires. The information suggests the recycled tires can carry up to 15 percent more weight than Goodyear considers safe.

A Goodyear official said White's Tire also mislabeled those retreaded tires with a recommended inflation level that's too low, which would further reduce the tires' safe carrying capacity below their original rating.

The mislabeled tires probably are not an imminent threat because school buses are relatively light and do not stress tires to their limits, according to Goodyear.

"I have nothing to base a belief that the tires are unsafe, but it is concerning that the load capacities shown on these remolded tires are greater than what we put on them when they were new," Simeon Ford, manager of Goodyear's office of governmental and customer compliance, said in a January 30 letter to the state Department of Public Instruction.

DPI is looking into the issue, said Derek Graham, a spokesman for the agency's transportation office.

A spokesman for White's Tire says all its tires are safe and the labeling problem was corrected more than two years ago.

The Wake County school system has more than 800 buses in its fleet, but officials said they haven't been notified by the state of any problems.

Durham Public Schools spokesman Michael Yarborough said the district doesn't have any of the mislabeled tires.

The school districts in Orange County and Johnston County both use Goodyear tires, but officials for both districts said they are awaiting word from state officials on whether they have a problem.

Buses in Guilford County use White's Tire retreads. District officials there said they recently checked 25 buses and found the mislabeled tires on three "spare buses," which are used less frequently so they go longer between tire changes.