Could You Be Driving on Counterfeit Tires?

Consumer Reports warns that counterfeit Chinese tires have been sold in the U.S. using the Pegasus Advanta brand.

Could You Be Driving on Counterfeit Tires? Photo (cc) by kokotoni

You’ve likely heard about counterfeit money, jewelry and designer handbags. But what about counterfeit tires?

According to Consumer Reports, a routine tire performance test found that American Pacific Industries’ Pegasus Advanta SUV tires performed poorly in winter conditions. The Chinese-branded all-season tires are a bargain, costing as little as $95 apiece.

But what happened after the annual testing was anything but routine. When API looked up the date codes on the poorly performing tires, it discovered that the tires were not produced at an API-authorized tire production facility, the company said.

Barry Littrell, API’s chief operating officer, wrote in a letter to CR: “The Pegasus Advanta SUV tires you tested … were not produced by any authorized vendor to American Pacific Industries, who owns the trademark ‘Pegasus Advanta SUV’ and the hardware used to produce those tires.”

What’s worse, API went on to say, “Many of our [tire] molds went missing. … We have no idea who may have made these tires nor what they put in them.”

Consumerist said figuring out what to do with the counterfeit tires has been a challenge.

Counterfeit tires pose two big challenges for consumers. One is that their quality may be lacking — as these were — and consumers aren’t getting what they paid for. And the other challenge is that in the event of a safety defect or a recall, consumers don’t really have any recourse.

You can figure out if your Pegasus Advanta SUV tires are counterfeit by checking the last two digits of the tire number on the sidewall. If it’s 12 or higher, API says, it did not produce those tires.

So, then what? Unfortunately, your options are limited.

CR said a company official from API (who asked not to be identified) said the company would handle any consumer complaints about the counterfeit tires on an individual basis. CR wrote:

“If a consumer calls API and has Pegasus Advanta SUV tires, we would tell them whether we did or did not make it,” the API official said. “If we did not make the tire, our warranty would not apply. You need to talk to the retailer you bought it from.” Meanwhile, API has ceased using the Pegasus name and has begun selling tires under the Advanta brand name instead.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asks that anyone who knows about a possible tire safety issue should contact it.

Were you aware that counterfeit tires are a concern? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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