Strategic Safety Urges Ford/Firestone to Include All Wilderness Tires in Recall
14 August 2000Strategic Safety Urges Ford/Firestone to Include All Wilderness Tires in Recall
ARLINGTON, Va. - Strategic Safety, a firm specializing in research and investigation of motor vehicle safety, first uncovered Ford's overseas recalls of Firestone tires and on July 31, 2000, urged Ford and Firestone to take immediate action and recall tires in the U.S. Now the firm is calling on Ford and Firestone to complete the job before additional lives are lost and injuries accrue. Ford and Firestone's current recall excludes 16-inch tires and 15-inch Firestone Wilderness tires built in plants other than Decatur, leaving millions of owners at risk. Ford's overseas recalls show that the company replaced both 15-inch and 16-inch tires in foreign markets. Ford and Firestone continue to refuse to recall 16-inch tires in the U.S. claiming differences in environmental conditions and usage patterns, the same argument that the companies used when confronted with the foreign recalls. Ford and Firestone have failed to explain why environmental conditions and usage patterns affect one size tire and not the other. Ford and Firestone argue that 15-inch Wilderness tires built in the Decatur plant are subject to tread separation at much higher rates. The companies have yet to identify why these rates are higher. However, during the 1990s, the Decatur plant was building as many as 50 different tires concurrently with the tires that are subject to the recall. To the extent that the manufacturer claims this is a Decatur plant problem, it would be expected that the same high failure rate would persist in all tire lines that were being manufactured at the same time and on the same production facilities as the recalled tires. If the rates are the same, all the tire lines built concurrent with the recalled tires should also be recalled. If the rates are different, the problem must be related to the design of the recalled tires, which is the same regardless of where the tire was made. Ford and Firestone argue that the 16-inch tires on U.S. models are being excluded from the recall because of the lower number of failures associated with this size. Overall failure numbers are expected to be lower because fewer vehicles and model years are fitted with the 16-inch tires. Firestone documents indicate that the Wilderness A/T P235/75R15 tires made at the Decatur plant are produced with no significant differences from those produced at the Joliette and Wilson plants. Bridgestone/Firestone workers at the Decatur plant claim that tires built at their plant are made from the same stock and design used by all the plants. Ford has an equal or greater responsibility to recall the subject tires, as 45 of the 50 known fatal injuries were to occupants in Ford vehicles, and 253 of the 270 complaints identified by NHTSA involve Ford vehicles. Ford's responsibility is heightened by its involvement in the design and specification of the tires Firestone manufactures for its vehicles.