Bridgestone to Recall Millions of Tires
August 9, 2000
Bridgestone Corp. said on Wednesday it would recall millions of tires fitted to sport utility vehicles and light trucks as U.S. regulators probe dozens of fatal crashes that may be linked to the tires.
At a news conference, the Japanese company's Firestone division said it would recall certain sized ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires and replace them. The recall applied to all tires produced at its U.S. plants.
"No matter how old the tires, no matter how many miles they have on them, we will replace them with new tires at no charge," said Firestone Executive Vice President Gary Crigger.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in May opened an inquiry into the treads peeling off Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires with data that included just four deaths.
Publicity surrounding the probe caused complaints to soar and NHTSA said this week at least 46 fatalities were now under investigation.
"The vast majority of the incidents are in the southern most states of Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, which suggests there may be a direct correlation between heat and tire performance," Crigger added.
In its statement, Firestone said it had sold 14.4 million of the certain-sized tires affected by the recall -- the P235/75R15. Of this number, it estimated that 6.5 million were still in use.
Crigger said this particular size was strongly represented in the incidents and accidents reported. Firestone's Decatur, Ill., plant was over-represented in the claims.
Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer, the top-selling SUV in the United States with 3.5 million built, was fitted with the tires as standard equipment at the factory.
Ford's decision to offer customers in six other countries free replacement tires starting last August in Saudi Arabia has raised questions about why U.S. customers weren't offered a recall sooner.
Bridgestone, which bought U.S. tire maker Firestone in 1988, had previously said the tires are safe when properly inflated and maintained.
The recall was developed after a meeting Tuesday between officials of Bridgestone, Ford and NHTSA.
Firestone was previously involved in a huge tire recall that began in the 1970s.
Millions of its Firestone 500 steel-belted
radials were recalled after NHTSA found the tire had a defect.
The company paid a $500,000 fine for knowingly selling tires
that would fail government tests but admitted no wrongdoing.
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