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Bridgestone Recalls 42 Steeltex Tires

LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2003; Reuters reported that Bridgestone Corp. recalled 42 Steeltex radial tires on Wednesday for the same type of defect that led to a massive recall of its Wilderness tires, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The NHTSA announced the recall of Steelex tires manufactured between March 9 and March 15 because of potential tread separation defects that "can possibly lead to a vehicle crash, resulting in serious injury or death," it said on its Web site.

Bridgestone/Firestone has advised NHTSA that all of the tires in question have been removed from the field, the Web site said.

The voluntary recall came in the midst of a NHTSA review of whether 27.5 million Steeltex R4S, R4SII and A/T tires should be recalled over tread separation defects.

The agency is considering whether to reopen its investigation of the tires at the behest of Los Angeles attorney Joseph Lisoni, who filed a $3 billion proposed class action last year accusing Bridgestone of concealing defects in the heavy-duty tire.

The lawsuit claims the tire, installed on 43 types of vehicles such as pickups, vans and mobile homes, caused thousands of serious accidents including fatalities.

NHTSA's decision on whether to reopen its investigation of Steeltex tires is expected by May 27.

Bridgestone is still fighting rollover lawsuits in courts across the United States stemming from tread separation in its Wilderness tires, which were standard equipment on the Ford Motor Co. Explorer and other sport utility vehicles. About 20 million Wilderness tires were recalled, 14 million by Ford and 6.5 million by Firestone.

"We don't know exactly what they are up to. Maybe this is the first crack in the dam," Lisoni said of the Steeltex recall.

An attorney for Bridgestone said the recall was unrelated to the lawsuit and would not affect it.