To most consumers, tires all tend to look alike and be fairly easy to ignore. You slap them on your vehicle, check the pressures (somewhat) regularly and drive for thousands of miles. They're arguably the most important part of your car, however, and they deserve more attention and thought. They're also a lot more complex than you might think, and in unexpected ways.

Take Consumer Reports, which recently inadvertently fell into the complicated world of Chinese counterfeits after testing a Pegasus Advanta SUV tire that retailed for just $95. It came up dead last in a test, but American Pacific Industries, the brand's owner in the US, has disavowed CR's results, claiming that the examples the institute evaluated were fakes. From there, the story took a convoluted series of turns.

After checking the date codes, API claimed that the factory where CR's tires were produced hadn't been authorized to do so since 2011, yet these examples were from 2012. There may have been some problems when the company changed plants. "Many of our molds went missing at that time. We have no idea who may have made these tires nor what they put in them," said API Chief Operating Officer Barry Littrell in a letter to Consumer Reports.

The next step was to figure out what recourse a customer with these tires may have, and that question proved even more complicated. The online retailer where CR bought the products didn't have the power to recall them, and since API maintained they were counterfeit tires, it also held that its warranty didn't apply. Until there was safety issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration couldn't do anything, either.

From CR's detective work, it's possible 400-500 of the potentially faulty Pegasus Advanta SUV tires made it to the US. Also, API no longer sells under the Pegasus brand, it now trades under the name Advanta. For consumers, the lesson here might be that it's worth spending the extra money to buy from a more established brand in hopes of avoiding counterfiets. Check out the video below for the whole story on Consumer Reports getting to the bottom of the problem.

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