PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An investigation by Consumer Reports has discovered that a Chinese company may be selling counterfeit tires in the US under a brand name that consumers trust.

The discovery came when the company conducted their annual tire tests.

The three SUV tires that performed the worst are all manufactured in China, including the Pegasus Advanta SUV which seemed like a bargain at $95 a tire.

But Consumer Reports’ Jennifer Stockburger says the tires were the lowest performing among those they tested.

“These tires did not grip well in snow,” she said. “They were short in terms of tread life, when compared to the other models. And they made for a rough and noisy ride.”

API, the US-based company that owns the Pegasus brand, says it stopped using the Chinese factory that made the tires three years ago.

A letter from API’s chief operating officer says: “Many of our molds went missing … we have no idea who may have made these tires nor what they put in them.”

Consumer Reports bought the tires from the website Tires-easy.com. Its president says the tires came from an importer.

“We contacted the importer and several government agencies and unfortunately no one is really owning responsibility,” said Stockburger. “That leaves the consumer little recourse should something go wrong.”

Consumer Reports tested two other inexpensive SUV tires from China – the $85 Sunny and the $114 Geostar. They didn’t perform well in the snow and ice tests and scored much lower overall than the Consumer Reports top-rated SUV tire, the Michelin Latitude Tour, which costs $168.

The least expensive all-season SUV-truck tire Consumer Reports recommends is the $135 Conti Cross Contact L-X-20 EcoPlus. Consumer Reports also recommends the Michelin L-T-X M/S-2 for $190; Goodyear Assurance C-S TripleTred All-Season for $160; Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus, also $160; and Cooper Discoverer S-R-X for $157.

“Your tires are a key safety component of your car, which is why we always recommend that people go with the best performing tire they can afford,” counsels Stockburger.

As for those Pegasus Advanta SUV tires, so far the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not gotten any complaints about them, and Consumer Reports has no information that would indicate the tire presents an immediate safety risk.

But if you bought them and are worried about their legitimacy, you can get more information on the Consumer Reports website: ConsumerReports.org.

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