Bridgestone/Firestone Boosts Production of Replacement Tires

12 August 2000

Company to Provide Consumers With Information On Recall with expanded
hotline hours

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Bridgestone/Firestone has ordered dramatic increases in production and imports to meet the demands of a tire recall announced Wednesday and has intensified its efforts to respond faster to consumer inquiries about the recall.

    On Wednesday, Bridgestone/Firestone announced a voluntary recall of all Firestone Radial ATX and Radial ATX II tires in size P235/75R15 produced in North America, including Mexico, and Wilderness AT tires in size P235/75R15 produced at the Decatur, Illinois plant. The recall includes original equipment and replacement tires of that size, regardless of the vehicle's manufacturer.

    "We are making every effort to provide not only information but action," said Gary Crigger, executive vice president of Bridgestone/Firestone. "Our domestic production and our imports have been ramped up as quickly as possible to produce the replacement tires we need, and we expect to double tire production in about a week. We are also continuing the process of locating other potential sources of replacements."

    Crigger said the company is expanding hours for its consumer hotline (1-800-465-1904) as rapidly as possible and will be answering calls from 6 a.m. to midnight by Monday and 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week soon thereafter. Spanish language customer service operators will be available beginning Monday. The company has also taken steps to ensure the availability of its website (www.bridgestone-firestone.com) which was also overwhelmed by Internet visits after Wednesday's announcement.

    "We are determined to provide the public with the answers they need to understand this situation, how it applies to them and what actions they need to take," Crigger said. "We understand consumers' need for accurate information and we are working hard to make it available."

    Crigger said the company has ordered its plants to double their capacity to produce replacement tires of this size and will also increase production and imports from its global production network.
    The company also published a list of answers to frequently asked questions to address the concerns most often expressed by consumers. The questions and answers are posted on the website.

    The recalled tires are most commonly used on sport utility vehicles and light trucks. A majority of the tires in use are on Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer SUVs.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently conducting a preliminary evaluation of the tires in response to questions relating to failures of these tires. The company chose to voluntarily recall the tires even though the evaluation is not yet complete.

    Crigger reiterated Bridgestone/Firestone's commitment to the safety and confidence of its customers. "We intend to replace these tires, no matter how old or no matter where they were purchased."

    "We want to assure our longstanding customers and business partners that this action is motivated by our commitment to safety and customer confidence, not by lawsuits or government mandates," Crigger said. "This is a difficult time for consumers, for those who might have experienced losses in any accidents involving these tires, and to our many loyal and dedicated employees. We ask for the patience of all as we work to address every concern."

    Nashville, Tennessee, based Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., is the largest subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation of Japan, the world's largest tire and rubber manufacturer. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., develops, manufactures and markets Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton and private brand tires. The company also produces Firestone air springs, roofing materials, synthetic rubber and industrial fibers and textiles.

    Frequently Asked Questions
    Bridgestone/Firestone Voluntary Recall

Recall/Tire Specifics

Q. What size and tire lines are being recalled? A. All Firestone Radial ATX and Radial ATX II tires in size
    P235/75R15 produced in North America, including Mexico, are being
    recalled. In addition, Wilderness AT tires in size P235/75R15
    produced in Decatur, Ill., are being recalled.

Q. What is Firestone doing to meet the increased demand? A. The company is doubling production in its plants and maximizing
    the volume of imports.

Q. What tires are being used as replacements? What is their safety
    record? A. Firestone is replacing recalled tires with new Wilderness AT tires
    not produced at the Decatur, Illinois plant.. If Wilderness AT
    tires are not available, recalled tires may be replaced with
    comparable Bridgestone/Firestone tire lines or competitors' tires
    during the first phase of the recall. We are committed to ensuring
    that customer satisfaction is met.

Q. Which vehicles have these tires as original equipment? A. Ford Explorers, Ford Ranger light trucks, Ford 150 light trucks,
    Mercury Mountaineers, Mazda Navajo, and Mazda B light trucks.

Q. How do I determine if my Wilderness tire was made in the Decatur
    facility? A. Owners should check the DOT number, which is located on the bead
    of the tire near the rim. DOT numbers beginning with the letters
    "VD" were produced in the Decatur facility. If any consumer has
    any question about whether or not his or her tires were produced
    at the Decatur plant, they should call the customer service
    number.

Q. Should consumers who are using Wilderness tire models that have
    not been recalled be concerned? Can they have their tires replaced
    if they are concerned? A. Wilderness tires are among the safest on the road. Experience
    shows that only Wilderness AT tires in size P235/75R15 that were
    made in Decatur, Ill., should be replaced. At the same time, all
    consumers should check their tires to ensure that they are
    properly maintained and inflated.

Customer Service

Q. Who should customers call with questions? A. Customers should call Firestone's toll-free customer assistance
    line at 1-800-465-1904. Bridgestone/Firestone has expanded the
    level of capacity of the toll free number. The line will now be
    open 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Q. What are the hours for the toll-free customer assistance line?
    Will calls be answered over the weekend? A. Hours for the customer service line will be expanded to 6 a.m. to
    midnight by Monday, August 14, 2000, and to 24 hours per day, 7
    days a week soon thereafter. Spanish speaking customer service
    representatives will be available on Monday.

Q. Are Firestone stores going to extend their hours to meet the
    increased demands? A. Firestone dealers are committed to providing customers with the
    best assistance possible. Each store sets its own hours and will
    do whatever it takes to meet their customers' needs.

Q. What should customers do while waiting to get their recall letter? A. While waiting to receive a recall letter, customers should ensure
    that their tires are properly inflated and properly maintained.
    Bridgestone/Firestone recommends a pressure of 30 pounds per
    square inch. Customers can call the toll-free customer hotline
    (1-800-465-1904) or contact their nearest company-owned Firestone
    Tire and Service Center for instructions on the process for
    getting their tires replaced.

Phases

Q. What is the purpose of the phased program? Why do some customers
    have to wait? A. The data shows that more than 80 percent of incidents reported to
    NHTSA have been in the Phase 1 states, Texas, California, Florida,
    and Arizona. The Phase 2 states - Louisiana, Nevada, Georgia,
    Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee - have accounted for 17
    percent of the incidents. The balance of incidents - 3 percent -
    were distributed among all other states and several states had no
    reported incidents at all. The purpose of the phased program is to
    put priorities on the states where the most incidents have
    occurred.

Q. What are the dates for Phase 1? Phase 2? Phase 3? How long will
    the entire process take? A. Bridgestone/Firestone plans to have Phase 1 completed by the end
    of October. We are working very hard to get tires replaced in the
    hottest states, those with the vast majority of the reported
    incidents, first. The entire recall program should be completed
    before summer 2001.

Q. What should customers in Phase 2 and Phase 3 states do while
    waiting for a recall letter? A. Owners should ensure that their tires are properly maintained and
    inflated. Firestone recommends a pressure of 30 pounds per square
    inch. Firestone Tire and Service Centers will conduct safety
    inspections at no charge. Customers may contact the toll-free
    customer hotline (1-800-465-1904) to locate their nearest
    company-owned Firestone dealer.

Q. Can customers who are traveling to Phase 1 states from other areas
    have their tires replaced immediately? A. Dealers will work with customers on an individual basis to try to
    resolve any issues.

General

Q. What prompted the concerns with the recalled tires? A. We don't know. The continuing NHTSA inquiry is seeking an
    explanation and we are cooperating fully with that inquiry.
    However, out of a commitment to public safety and consumer
    confidence, Bridgestone/Firestone has decided to recall the tires
    even though no definitive cause has been determined. The number of
    incidents reported has been relatively low in proportion to the
    vast number of tires on the road and miles driven.

Q. What is being done to ensure that tires made at the Decatur plant
    are safe? A. Other than the P235/75R15 Wilderness tire made at Decatur, there
    have been no other concerns with tires made at the plant. We don't
    yet know the reason why there were more incidents reported with
    that size tire from the Decatur plant Bridgestone/Firestone
    maintains rigorous quality control procedures in the plant as it
    does in all of its plants.

Q. What is Firestone doing with the tires that are returned? What are
    the environmental implications? A. The tires will be properly disposed of in accordance with
    applicable laws.

Q. How does this recall compare to Firestone's recall in 1978? A. There is no correlation between this voluntary recall and
    Firestone's government-mandated recall in 1978. This is a
    voluntary, proactive recall. Since 1988, Firestone has been part
    of the Bridgestone family and has global resources committed to
    customer safety and satisfaction. Without regard to costs to the
    company, Firestone has elected to make this voluntary recall
    because of its commitment to public safety and consumer
    confidence.

     
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