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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    Ford agrees to test replacement tires


    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published June 22, 2001

    Ford Motor Co. will test millions of suspect tires the company began putting on its sport utility vehicles and light trucks last month to replace potentially faulty Firestone tires.

    The decision by the world's second-largest automaker came Thursday after congressional investigators provided Ford with data showing some of its replacement tires fail more often than Firestone Wilderness AT tires.

    The tests "may not mean that one tire is inherently less safe than another, but it should warrant some scrutiny by your company before you urge consumers to switch tires," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, R-La., wrote in a letter to Ford CEO Jacques Nasser.

    But Tauzin refuses to release the data to the public. He released the names of only two of the seven questionable types of tires -- Goodyear Wrangler HT and General Grabber AP XL.

    Ford has replaced 1-million Bridgestone/Firestone tires mostly on Explorers with those made by Michelin, Continental, Goodyear, General, BF Goodrich and Uniroyal, and plans to finish the recall within nine months.

    Sue Cischke, Ford vice president of environmental and safety engineering, said the company is acting swiftly to analyze the data and then will consult with the federal government and tiremakers.

    Details on how the tires will be tested were unavailable.

    Tauzin, who has become an outspoken critic of Ford and Firestone, asked Ford to give his investigators the results of tests the company conducts on replacement tires.

    Officials with the federal agency that oversees the auto industry initially told Tauzin at a congressional hearing Tuesday that they would be able to determine this week whether Ford's replacement tires are safe.

    But, on Thursday, agency spokesman Rae Tyson said he did not know when the investigation would be complete.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to conclude a separate inquiry into about 47-million Firestone tires next month. The agency also recently began an informal review into the safety of the Ford Explorer, and will announce this summer whether to open a formal inquiry.

    Together, Ford and Firestone have recalled an unprecedented 27-million tires. That includes 13-million Wilderness AT tires Ford is replacing at a cost of $3-billion.

    House Committee spokesman Ken Johnson also said two more Firestone tire models used on Ford vehicles -- the Wilderness HT and the FR480 -- had higher claims rates than Wilderness ATs.

    Firestone has admitted to some design and manufacturing problems but says Ford also is responsible because of the Explorer's tendency to roll over. Ford blames the trouble on the tires.

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