Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co said Saturday it would recall about 41,000 of its Wrangler Silent Armor tires produced in 2009 over concerns that a small number could tear, leading to crashes.
Two people died in one 2011 rollover crash in Texas involving a vehicle equipped with the tires, Goodyear spokesman Scott Baughman said.
Baughman said about 27,000 of the tires were still believed to be in service. The tires are used on pickup trucks, vans and sport-utility vehicles, often at construction sites or for off-road applications, he said.
Goodyear said in a letter to federal safety regulators that it first saw an increase in warranty and property damage claims during a review in May 2010. The recall covers 40,915 tires produced in six sizes from March to May 2009.
"A small number of tires within this population may experience a partial tread area separation under certain severe usage conditions," Goodyear said in a February 22 letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Use of these tires in severe conditions could result in partial tread separation which could lead to vehicle damage or a motor vehicle crash."
Goodyear said it inspected in December the tire involved in last year's fatal crash in Texas and found it had sustained damage from external causes, the company said in the letter to NHTSA.
Still, based on an analysis of the warranty and damage claims, and discussion with safety regulators, Goodyear decided on February 16 to recall the tires, it said. It plans to send notices to customers by March 22.
"Statistics show the vast majority of tire issues are related to tires that are used while under-inflated, overloaded, in a poorly maintained condition or have suffered impact damage," Goodyear said in a statement.
(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by David Bailey)