TN - July 19, 2001 - Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. (BFS)
today reaffirmed the safety of its Wilderness AT tires, informing
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that
the facts and the data do not support an agency action that could
result in an expanded recall of any Wilderness AT tires, including
those equipped primarily on Ford Explorers. "We will do everything
in our power to ensure the safety of the driving public. If one
of our tires might jeopardize that safety, then we'll take it
off the road. We've done it before and, if it becomes necessary,
we'll do it again. But, that is simply not the case here,"
said John Lampe, Chairman, CEO and President of Bridgestone/Firestone.
To date, NHTSA has failed to make its analysis available to BFS
for the company to review in any meaningful way. BFS's own extensive
examination and evaluation of its tires, competitor tires and
the Ford Explorer clearly show that the Wilderness AT tires are
safe and that further action against the tires is unnecessary
and counterproductive. As this matter moves forward, the company
will use every available step in the process to prove the safety
of its tires, including public hearings, and if necessary, pursuing
this issue in the courts. "We appreciate NHTSA's diligence
on this issue, but we strongly disagree with any suggestion that
a recall action might be warranted and believe any such action
could have potentially serious consequences for the driving public
and the entire tire industry," said Lampe, referring to the
testing that shows the Firestone tires perform well within industry
levels on all tests. "This much is clear. Our tires are safe.
And, we will use every opportunity available to us to make that
point." "If the real issue at hand is the safety of
the driving public -- and we believe it is -- then taking more
of our tires off the road is not the solution. It doesn't solve
the real problem: the vehicle," Lampe added. "We now
know this to be a fact: you can take every Firestone tire off
every Explorer and the rollovers and fatal accidents will continue.
We've seen it in Venezuela, and we are now seeing it in the U.S."
the points the company cites in support of its position:
ATs are comparable to competitors' tires. Exhaustive tests show
that across the board, Firestone tires perform the same as, if
not better than, similar competitor tires that are currently being
fitted to Ford vehicles, including Explorers. The tests conducted
include: peel force, belt edge temperature tests, SAE high speed
testing and holography/shearography.
AT tires have extremely low claims rates. A tire's performance
and safety must be judged by a number of factors. Claims rates
alone are not an accurate measure of a tire's performance. However,
even if claims rates were to be used as a determinative factor,
the claims history of Wilderness ATs shows that the tires are
performing well in the field.
A tread separation
is not always a tire defect. Rather, tread separations can result
from a number of different causal factors related to tire use.
All tires, no matter what brand of manufacture, can experience
tread separations, and some will. This can happen whether as a
result of low inflation, improper repair, a road hazard that causes
a slow leak, an impact break or a similar incident. It is one
of the most common failure modes for any steel belted radial tire,
regardless of brand.
must also be investigated. The very same Wilderness AT tire performs
very differently on the Ford Explorer than it does on the Ford
Ranger. At the same time similar Wilderness AT tires mounted on
non-Ford vehicles perform at virtually flawless levels. In addition,
published reports show that tread separations leading to rollovers
and other accidents continue, no matter what brand tire is fitted
on the vehicle. An investigation conducted by Dr. Dennis Guenther
suggests certain models of the Ford Explorer are plagued by significant
safety problems because of inherent flaws in its design.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation,
the world's largest tire and rubber company. Bridgestone/Firestone
manufactures and markets Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton and house
and private brand tires. The company also produces Firestone air
springs, roofing materials, synthetic rubber and industrial products.
The company employs approximately 35,000 employees in North America.
For further information, please visit our Web site at
on the Ford/Firestone Fiasco
coutesy of Ford