Tires from China

Today’s news contains word that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is calling for the recall of 450,000 Chinese tires that apparently come apart on the road. I’m willing to assume assume that NHTSA is right about this and that the tires are somewhat more dangerous than American and Japanese-made brands. It’s still unclear how many of the tires really have problems and, in any case, assuming four tires per car, these tires have made it only only 1/20th of 1 percent of the cars in the United States.

But here’s my question: Could it be possible that these lower-priced tires actually improve safety? All tires, no matter where they are made, wear out after a while. And cars with worn tires skid, hydroplane, and get flats at much higher rates than those riding on new tires. All these things cause accidents.

Although new brake pads typically cost more over a car’s lifespan, tires are the most expensive single wear item on most cars. Getting them replaced on a typical car can easily cost $1,000. It seems quite possible to me that, because they cost less, more “dangerous” imported tires actually save lives by making it easier for people to replace worn tires at the margin.
In any case, let’s remember that Bridestone/Firestone announced a recall of 3.85 million tires in 2000.

In other words, let’s keep importing Chinese tires.