A vehicle’s tires are supposed to support the vehicle and its passengers’ weight, transmit traction and braking forces to road surfaces, absorb road shocks, and change and maintain the direction of travel. To do this properly, tires need to the right tread depth and air pressure.
When tires are damaged or begin to show signs of deterioration, they need to be replaced. Most drivers get at least a couple of years out of their tires, but there are instances where they need to be replaced sooner. Thousands of drivers are now learning they need tire replacements because of a Cooper Tire recall.
Cooper Tire Recall
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is recalling more than 430,000 tires from its Cooper, Hercules, Mastercraft, and Mickey Thompson brands because of concerns that the tires could develop sidewall bulges or separation from the sidewall that could lead to tire failure. Recalled tires were sold at Les Schwab, Pep Boys, and Tire Kingdom.
The affected tires, in 18- and 20-inch sizes, were manufactured from February 1, 2018, through December 1, 2019, and include the following models:
- Big O AT/T Big Foot (275/65R18)
- Big O Bigfoot A/S (275/65R18)
- Cooper Adventurer H/T (Pep Boys 275/65R18)
- Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S (275/65R18),
- Discoverer A/T3 (275/65R18)
- Evolution H/T (275/65R18)
- Discoverer AT3 4S (275/55R20)
- Hercules Terra Trac A/T II (275/65R18)
- Les Schwab Back Country QS3 Touring HT (275/65R18)
- Back Country SQ4 All Terrain (275/65R18)
- Mastercraft Courser HSX Tour (275/65R18)
- Courser AXT (275/65R18, 275/55R20)
- Courser AXT2 (275/65R18, 275/55R20)
- Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 All-Terrain (275/65R18, 275/55R20)
- TBC Multi-Mile Wild Country XTX Sport 4S (275/65R18, 275/55R20)
- Cooper Discoverer RTX (275/65R18)
Cooper is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the recalled tires. The company identified the problem from a higher-than-usual return rate. In a notice to dealers, Cooper Tires said, “Affected tires may have a visual anomaly on the white sidewall of the tire. In-service conditions may include ride disturbance that may be felt in vehicle steering or ride. Driving at high speeds may cause this condition to occur and should be avoided until the tires have been inspected and replaced.”
The Risk of Sidewall Separation
Tires are made up of several lawyers, which are referred to as plies. Plies run perpendicular to the tire’s tread and are bonded together with rubber. The plies are what give the tires strength and resistance to road damage. The tire sidewall protects the plies and has markings and information like the tire size and type. When the sidewall begins to separate, there is a risk for a blowout, which could cause a driver to lose control and get into an accident.
Sidewall blowout can happen because of under-inflation, overload, tire wear, damage, age, and manufacturing defects. In regard to manufacturing defects, inadequate speeding rating and improper testing are common causes of sidewall separation. Other manufacturer defects that can contribute to a blowout include:
- Improper compound balance
- Broken connections between the plies and tread
- Moisture and foreign matter
- Poor-quality solvents
- Inadequate final inspections
It’s currently unclear why the tires by Cooper Tires are at risk for sidewall separation. If, however, you notice a sidewall blowout is occurring while you are driving, you should maintain speed, counter steer to continue traveling in a straight line, pull over to the side of the road, and turn on your hazard lights.
What to Do If You Have Recalled Tires
While Cooper Tires is planning to contact affected consumers in March 2021, you do not have to wait if you believe you are affected by the recall. Instead, contact your nearest Cooper Tires retailer or call the Cooper Consumer Relations Department at (800) 854-6288.
Once you contact Cooper Tires, a tire retail inspector will verify you have a tire or tires that are part of the recall. Affected tires will be replaced with new tires and will be mounted and balanced at no charge. In the event Cooper Tires fails to replace your tires within a reasonable amount of time, you can notify the Secretary of Transportation in one of the following ways:
- Send written notice to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, D.C. 20590
- Call the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236
- Visit safercar.gov
For more information on vehicle and auto part recalls, visit the NHTSA’s Safety Issues and Recalls page.