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Firestone Reportedly Ready to Launch Another Tire Recall This Time Steeltex Radial ATS,

WASHINGTON February 26, 2004; Stephen Power writing for the WSJ reported that three and a half years after a massive recall of its tires linked to deadly highway rollover accidents involving Ford Explorer sport- utility vehicles, Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC is preparing to announce another, much smaller, recall of tires mounted on Ford Motor Co. SUVs, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Nashville company, the U.S. unit of Japan's Bridgestone Corp., is preparing to announce the recall of tires mounted on Ford Excursion, following three fatal crashes that claimed five lives, these people said.

The tires, which are called Steeltex Radial ATS, LT-265/75R16-Load Range D, were made between March 1999 and December 2002, according to one person familiar with the matter. About 320,000 are believed to still be in use, according to this person. A company spokesman said the number was lower but declined to elaborate and said an announcement was being planned for Thursday afternoon.

Officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration became aware of the accidents after Firestone in December submitted claims and warranty data to the agency, this person added. The submission was in keeping with a provision of a federal auto-safety law, passed in the wake of the 2000 Firestone recall of 6.5 million tires that took effect late last year. The new regulation requires manufacturers to submit volumes of additional information about their products to NHTSA officials.