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Investigation reveals 'regrooved' passenger tires are hitting the roads

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One expert calls regrooved passenger tires an accident waiting to happen. (Source: 3TV) One expert calls regrooved passenger tires an accident waiting to happen. (Source: 3TV)

There's a new trend out there, making old worn-out tires look new, and the trend is by no means safe. The technique is called "regrooving," and it's exactly what it sounds like. A small machine can regroove tires to make them look like they have more tread life than they really do.

Our Valley highways are heavily traveled, and proper car maintenance should be a priority. 

Howard Fleischmann, who's been in the tire industry for 40 years, says some people are cutting corners.  

"Unfortunately, we have some unscrupulous people out there now that have decided, 'I can make more money selling a used tire if I can make it look like it has more tread,'" he said. 

Howard owns a string of tire and automotive repair shops called Community Tire Pros. He says he's come across a method for making used tires look new, and it's something that concerns him. 

It involves the use of something called a "regrooving tool," which adds more depth to a passenger tire by actually carving out the rubber, giving it more depth. 

"Regrooving is happening in a marketplace that could put people in danger," Fleischmann said.

Howard and his shops don't sell used or regrooved passenger tires, but he agreed to show 3 On Your Side how regrooving is done so consumers know what to look out for. He showed 3 On Your Side two passenger tires standing side by side. They came off the same car at the same time.   

One, however, was regrooved to add tread depth and make it look newer than it is. Howard had one of his employees show us how it's done. 

In this case, the regrooving tool removed so much rubber that the steel underneath was exposed. 

"We went a little bit too far here, so we're already into the metal tread. This tire will come apart," Fleischmann said.

Regrooving is acceptable when it comes to big trucks because those tires are made to be regrooved. In fact, YouTube has several different videos showing how truckers regroove their tires.

Passenger tires are another story; they are not made to be regrooved. 

"There seems to be a resurgence of this trend as they actually sell these kits on Amazon," said Travis Mock of AAA of Arizona.

He said about 25 million used tires are available to consumers every year. How many of those are regrooved is unknown but consumers are buying them. Mock said he recently came across someone who bought a used regrooved passenger tire off the Internet.

He used an old rubber tire to make his point. 

"An unsuspecting person may be buying a set of tires used or something. It's possible to be duped where you go, 'This is a good tire,'
 when in reality it's not a good tire," he said.

You might be thinking there has to be a law that prevents the sale of regrooved passenger tires here in Arizona, but you'd be mistaken. We asked the Arizona Department of Transportation.

"Regrooving is not regulated by ADOT, therefore we would not have records of complaints, nor conducted any investigations," a spokesman said.

We also contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which says it only regulates regroovable tires used on big truck trucks --  not passenger automobile tires. 

Howard says consumers need to be aware of regrooved tires and the dangers they pose. 

"If they regroove down to make it look like it has more rubber, they're getting very close to the steel of the tire," he said. "Unfortunately, it's actually an accident waiting to happen."

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