Firestone • Ford • Fiasco Commentary

Acorn Automotive Editor

Firestone • Ford • Fiasco


Every one makes mistakes. I make them everyday. It’s part of life. It’s just that when the mistake is made by a multi-national corporation we read about it everywhere and it becomes the type of story that TV news magazines feed on.

It seems that back in 1994 one Firestone factory in Decatur, Ill. manufactured tires that slipped through their stringent quality control. We have heard that the tires were manufactured during a period of industrial action or even that sabotage took place, but whatever the final reasons for the problem, the problem should have never occurred.

My e-mail has been inundated with press releases from every manufacturer from Mercedes-Benz to Kia asking me to let our readers know that their tires are all OK. Both Firestone and Ford have issued almost as many releases outlining how they are dealing with the problem.

Firestone made the tires and Ford sold vehicles fitted with them. The tires in question are Firestone’s P235/75R15 Radial ATX and ATX II, as well as Wilderness AT tires. They were mostly fitted as standard equipment on Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers, as well as a small number of trucks.

The problem involves tire tread separation when both high operating temperatures and incorrect inflation occurred. More than 46 deaths were reported, many outside the U.S.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started an investigation, which is still ongoing. But Firestone and Ford didn’t wait and, almost immediately, issued a recall of millions of tires. So many tires that Bridgestone/Firestone doesn’t have enough replacements available!

So what should you do if you suspect you have a problem tire? Firstly, no matter what you drive and who made the tires, have them checked every few months. Your dealer or local tire retailer will do this for free. Make sure the tires are inflated to the pressure listed in your owners manual or on the door pillar. Not to the figure pressed into the sidewall of the tire, that is the maximum recommended pressure.

If you have tires recalled under this alert, go to a Ford or Firestone dealer. If they don’t have replacement tires in stock they will pay for you to get equivalent competitors tires. Firestone will reimburse pro-rated fees for new tires, up to $100 per tire to include mounting, balancing and taxes. If you replaced tires before the recall, that is also reimbursable.

Full page, national ads have been taken out to inform how to deal with this situation and websites from both Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone are full of information.

So what do we learn? Keep your tires correctly inflated and checked. That’s obvious. The big companies do take notice and step up to the plate when a problem happens. The average car is full of bits of metal, plastic and rubber and as long as these parts are manufactured by humans, there will be errors.

I can only imagine how much this is costing both Ford and Firestone. Multiply 6.5 million tires by $100 and you only get the tip of a gigantic iceberg.

The repercussions from this recall are only just starting. The automotive recall process has been developed over many years to ensure that the vehicles we drive and our passengers are safe. Lets hope that the changes that are bound to come are for the good.

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