This class action is about tires made by Kumho Tire USA, Inc. and installed on Hyundai trucks. The complaint claims that the Kumho and Hyundai knew about the problems yet refused to replace the tires.
The Kumho Nationwide Consumer Class is all persons and legal entities who bought a new KLT02e tire or bought or leased any trailer or other vehicle bearing the KLT02e tires as the original equipment manufacturer.
The Hyundai Nationwide Consumer Class is all persons and legal entities who bought or leased a new Hyundai trailer which had new KLT02e tires as the original equipment manufacturer.
Statewide Kumho and Hyundai classes are also proposed for consumers living in Arkansas and Louisiana.
The tires in question are Kumho’s KLT02e “low rolling resistance” tires, which Hyundai installed on certain long-haul trailers. “Rolling resistance” is the force required to keep a tire turning at a given speed, which makes a difference in the vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
The complaint claims that Kumho claimed that the KLT02e had “special low rolling resistance tread cap & base compounds” with “longer casing life due to high strength, flex/fatigue-resistant ply wire[.]” Kumho claimed it had “verified” that the tires would “improve wear and fuel economy.” The tires carried a six-year express warranty.
Hyundai put the tires on its Dry Van Trailer long haul trailers between 2012 and 2016 and provided a five-year express warranty.
Unfortunately, the complaint alleges that the tires were made from a defective, too-soft rubber compound that did not comply with federal regulations. Instead of offering improved wear, the tires wore down too quickly. The complaint claims that low rolling resistance tires normally last for 140,000 miles, but that the KLT02e tires lasted for only about 30,000 miles. Even worse, the tires could shear and break while the vehicle is in motion, creating a dangerous condition.
In 2015, Fleet Equipment, Southeastern Trailer, and Bowman Leasing complained jointly to Kumho and Hyudai about the KLT02e tire, asking that it be replaced for their customers at no cost. Kumho sent an investigator to examine the tires they had on site. The inspector informed Fleet that Kumho’s compound was too soft. Kumho also sent out a representative who also told Bowman that the rubber compound was too soft. Finally, in April 2016, Kumho sent a warranty investigator to Hog Wild Trucking, the plaintiff in this case. This investigator too said that the rubber compound was too soft. However, Kumho refused to honor its warranties and replace the tires.
At this point, Fleet contacted Hyundai and threatened to file a class action. Hyundai sent its president from South Korea to offer Fleet a credit on future trailer purchases if it would agree not to file the suit. Fleet accepted the deal, but it did not pass on any benefits to customers who had bought Hyundai equipment with the defective tires.
The complaint claims breaches of warranty, among other things.