American automaker GM has recalled a slate of tires for being “overcured,” causing them to experience higher rates of sidewall breakage. This recall affects a wide array of GM vehicles, including Buick, Cadillac, GMC, and Chevrolet models.
The National Highway Traffic Association has confirmed that the recall affects 2020 models of Chevrolet Traverse crossovers, as well as 2020 to 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks, and Buick Enclaves, Cadillac XT5s, and GMC Acadias utility vehicles.
Owners of 2020 model year iterations of these vehicles are encouraged to check their tire rubber to see if they have Continental tires. These are the tires in question that may be recalled due to being overcured. This means that it is more likely that the tires could experience breakage that could lead to faster wear and tear and higher rates of flat tires.
If the term “tire curing” sounds bizarre, it’s not actually unusual. Rubber that is used for tires needs to be cured, not unlike leather or some meats, in order to be usable on the road. The curing process for rubber involves the precise application of heat and pressure to specific parts of the tire.
The process is critical because it gives the tire its shape, and also dictates many of its physical properties, such as pliability, sturdiness, and resistance.
Overcuring the rubber can make it stiffer, less pliable, and more brittle. This is a bad place for a tire to be: tires need to be sturdy enough to withstand road conditions but pliable enough to give when encountering obstructions. If they’re too stiff, tires can experience sidewall breakage when they encounter too much resistance.
If your tires were to experience a sudden sidewall break, it could lead to a very quick loss of air pressure in the tire and a subsequent loss of driver control of the vehicle. It would be like popping a flat in a fraction of the normal time it takes to lose the air from your tire.
Another potential issue with the overcured tires is the possibility of belt-edge separation, which is as bad as it sounds and could easily lead to a crash.
On the bright side, GM has announced that only around 7,500 vehicles have been affected by this recall. If you believe your car may be affected, bring it to your dealership and have it inspected for free. Should your tires be faulty, they’ll swap them out for you, free of charge.