A Special Report: St. Petersbrg Times Deadly Combination: Ford, Firestone and Florida
Deadly Combination:
Ford, Firestone and Florida
Part One
  • Main story
  • Companies warming to settlements
  • At a glance
  • The players
  • Questions and Answers
  • A Timeline
  • What the companies say
  • Interview with Anita Kumar, the reporter
  • Graphic: How the tires failed
  • Graphic: When it’s too late
  • Graphic: By the numbers
  • Graphic: The human toll

  • Part Two
  • After the rollover
  • Suspect tires still on road
  • Driver side rear tires fail the most
  • About this report

  • Contact Anita Kumar:
  • Via e-mail: Click here
  • By phone: (727) 893-8472

    Further coverage
  • In first trial, Firestone settles lawsuit
  • Battered Firestone counting on local ties
  • Rollover crashes are hard to track
  • Ford leaves 2-door SUV unchanged
  • Recall may leave Firestone bankrupt
  • Government to expand tire recall
  • FHP says Firestone tire a factor in fatal crash
  • Two bay area lawsuits target Ford, Firestone
  • Ford agrees to test replacement tires
  • Ford recall: from bad to worse?
  • Ford's sub tires may fail more
  • Attention shifts from Firestone to Ford Explorer
  • Ford widens recall; companies cut ties
  • Ford recalls Wilderness AT Firestone tires
  • Dealerships brace for Ford tire recall
  • Tire decision not just for Ford owners
  • Voluntary tire recall rolling smoothly
  • Firestone cuts deal on bad tires
  • How the tires failed: An interactive graphic

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    By Times staff researchers

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 20, 2001

    Questions and answers about road safety.

    Which tires are recalled?
    All Firestone Radial ATX and Radial ATX II tires in size P235/75R15 produced since 1991 in North America and all Wilderness AT tires of that same size manufactured at Firestone's plant in Decatur, Ill.

    Which vehicles have the recalled tires as original equipment?
    Ford Explorers, Ford Ranger light trucks, Ford F150 light trucks, Mercury Mountaineers, Mazda Navajo, and Mazda B series light trucks.

    Which tires are included in the federal government's consumer advisory?
    ATX, Firehawk ATX, ATX 23 Degree, Widetrack Radial Baja, Widetrack Radial Baja A/S, Wilderness AT, Wilderness HT in various sizes. Most of these were sold as replacements in the after market for light trucks and SUVs.

    How did I know if my tires are included on these lists?
    You need to check the tire size, which is located on both sides of the tire. It is in raised black letters and will be slightly smaller print than the words, "Firestone ATX" or "Firestone Wilderness." Only tire size P235/75R15 is included in Firestone's recall.

    How do I know if my tires were made at the Decatur plant?
    Check the DOT number, which is located on the blackwall side of the tire under the "F" in Firestone. It is 10 characters long, begins with DOT and may have some spaces between some of the numbers. Since this code is on the blackwall side of the tire and not on the outlined white letter side of the tire, you may need to crawl underneath your vehicle to find the code. DOT numbers which contain the letters "VD" were produced in Decatur.

    Which tires are Firestone using to replace recalled tires?
    Firestone is replacing recalled tires with Wilderness AT tires not produced at the Decatur plant. If those tires are not available, comparable Bridgestone/Firestone tire lines or competitors' tires will be used, according to company officials.

    How do I get replacement tires?
    Go to a Firestone Tire & Service Center or participating Bridgestone/Firestone retailer. Ford, Mercury and Mazda owners are able to get tires at participating Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Mazda dealerships.

    What if I want another brand of replacement tires?
    You will be reimbursed up to $100 per tire, including mounting and balancing charges and taxes. You can pick up a refund form and obtain additional information from an authorized Bridgestone/Firestone retailer.

    What if I got my tires replaced before the recall?
    If you exchanged recalled tires between Jan. 1 and Aug. 8 last year at a Firestone Tire & Service Center or authorized Bridgestone/Firestone retailer, you may be reimbursed by completing a form available at authorized Bridgestone/Firestone dealers. If you replaced recalled tires at a non-authorized dealer between Aug. 9 and Aug. 16 last year, you may be reimbursed up to $100 per tire including mounting balancing and taxes. Contact Firestone for more information.
    Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

    Safeguarding your car

  • Check your tires to make sure there are no visible problems.
  • Be sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Do not drive at high speeds, particularly in hot weather. If possible, choose roads with relatively low speed limits.
  • Make sure your vehicle is not overloaded.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Make sure children are in proper car seats.
  • Experts suggest buying tires with a nylon overlay or nylon cap.
  • Check tire pressure, which may look adequate but could be low.
  • Rotate your tires.
  • Keep your best tires on the rear wheels.
  • When an accident occurs

  • Just before a tire separates, you may feel a vibration, similar to going over speed bumps.
  • Hold the steering wheel as tightly as possible.
  • Take your foot off the gas pedal.
  • Do not brake.
  • Pull over to shoulder.
  • Let car coast to stop.
  • Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Bridgestone/Firestone, Ford, Attorney Bruce Kaster of Ocala, Attorney Tab Turner of Little Rock, Ark.

    By the Numbers

  • Tires the federal government began investigating in May: 47-million
  • Firestone tires recalled in August: 14.4-million
  • Recalled tires that were in use after the recall was announced: 6.5-million
  • Replaced recalled tires as of March: 6.3-million
  • Tires included in the September consumer advisory: 1.4-million
  • Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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