08/09/2000 – Bridgestone/Firestone Announces Voluntary Recall of 3.85 million RADIAL ATX and RADIAL ATX II Tires, and 2.7 million Wilderness AT Tires


This press release comes from the Bridgestone/Firestone web site.

Bridgestone/Firestone Announces Voluntary Recall of 3.85 million
RADIAL ATX and RADIAL ATX II Tires, and 2.7 million Wilderness AT Tires
Company urges
all drivers to maintain proper inflation in their tires.

 

WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 9, 2000 — Saying the safety of consumers
is the company’s first concern, today Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., 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. Vehicle
owners will be notified of the recall by mail. Bridgestone/Firestone
will replace all of these tires with brand new Wilderness AT or other
Bridgestone/Firestone tires. If necessary, the company will obtain other
sources of supply.

The recall was announced by Gary Crigger, Executive Vice President
of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., at a Washington, DC, news conference.
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 is not limiting the recall.
There have been approximately 14.4 million of these tires produced.
The company estimates that the number of tires still in use and involved
in the recall is 6.5 million, which includes 3.8 million Radial ATX
and ATX II tires and 2.7 million Wilderness AT tires.

"At Bridgestone/Firestone, nothing is more important to us than
the safety of our customers," said Crigger. "We felt we must
take this extraordinary step as a precaution to ensure consumer safety
and consumer confidence in our brands. So, no matter how old the tires,
no matter how many miles they have on them, we will replace them with
new tires."

Crigger said, "Throughout this process, we have been working very
closely with Ford Motor Company and NHTSA to determine the cause of
the accidents involving vehicles with these tires. While we have not
determined what, if any, problem there may be with these tires, our
review of the data suggests three things."

Although noting that accidents involving these tires are rare in comparison
to the millions of tires produced, he said that the data shows:

  1. The number of reported incidents with the P235/75R15 Radial ATX
    and ATX II is higher than with other sizes in this line;
  2. The Decatur, Illinois plant is over-represented in the accident
    claims and reports compared with other plants;
  3. The 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.

"In addition," Crigger said, "the abundance of concern
surrounding these tires clearly indicates the need for this action."

The company also urged all consumers to take additional steps to increase
the lifespan and safety of their tires, by maintaining proper inflation.

"When under inflated, all radial tires generate excessive heat,"
Crigger said. "Driving on tires in this condition can lead to tread
separation. Maintaining the proper inflation level will enhance the
performance and lifespan of these tires."

For the owners of the P235/75R15 size tires in the ATX, ATX II produced
in North America, including Mexico, and Wilderness AT tires produced
at the Decatur, Illinois plant:

  • Customers who have a recalled tire will receive a letter from the
    company notifying them of the recall and the steps they need to take.
    Customers who need assistance should call the toll-free customer service
    number at 1-800-465-1904 or click here
    to find the location of the nearest Firestone Authorized Service Center.
  • Those who have a recalled tire should call their nearest local Firestone
    retailer to set up an appointment for an exchange. Because the preponderance
    of incidents is in the four southern states and given the limited
    supply of replacement tires at this time, the company will be undertaking
    a three phase recall starting in Arizona, California, Florida and
    Texas. The second phase for the recall will be implemented in Alabama,
    Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The
    final phase will include the remainder of the states.
  • Keep non-Ford vehicles with Wilderness AT tires at the pressure
    recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • All vehicle owners using Wilderness tires should keep their tires
    inflated at the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
    For owners of Ford Explorers or Mercury Mountaineers, with P235/75R15
    ATX and Wilderness AT tires on their vehicles, Ford recommends these
    tires be maintained at a minimum of 26 psi. at the request of Firestone,
    Ford has evaluated the performance of these tires at 30 psi and has
    determined that the vehicles maintain good performance characteristics
    at this higher pressure. Ford recommends a tire pressure range of
    26-30 psi. Firestone recommends a tire pressure of 30 psi.

Consistent with the company’s long-standing policy of commitment to
customer satisfaction and service, all Wilderness tire owners were urged
to contact their nearest company-owned service center for a free inspection.

"We will inspect each customer’s tires for damage or excessive
wear, while checking to make sure the tires are inflated to the level
specified by the vehicle’s manufacturer," said Crigger.

Crigger reiterated that these steps were being taken to protect consumer
safety and satisfaction. "We extend our condolences to families
that have lost loved ones in accidents. We also apologize to our customers
for the inconvenience this recall causes and we ask for their patience,"
he said.

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.

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