A Reuters report today says that tires made by the Chinese company Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. may not meet US safety specifications and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is forcing a New Jersey importer to recall more than 450,000 tires.

The manufacturer denies allegations of defective manufacturing or changes in specifications, although several deaths have already been linked to the tires.

Sold under names like Westlake, Telluride, Compass, and YKS, initial reports indicate that the Chinese tires may have missing or defective gum strips. These adhesive strips, along with other design considerations, are what prevent belt separation. If you happen to be cruising around on these tires, please take it easy on the gas pedal and you may want to have your tires checked. An official recall letter is expected soon.

On to the politics: amid a myriad of recent concerns about imported goods from China are such items as toxic toy trains, poisonous toothpaste, and pet food problems. As much as Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) annoys the crap out of me on other issues, I have to agree with his statement that, “China has been asleep at the switch when it comes to safety inspections.”

However, you may recall that our trade deficit with China grows by the minute, and a skeptical mind might wonder if the rash of recent incidents is part of some shadowy scare campaign intended to keep American consumers buying American.

The real problem of course with buying Chinese goods is that an hour later you want to go shopping again *chuckle*. But seriously folks, whether it’s real or not, take it easy and have your tires checked.

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