|As noted in Parade Magazine on October 1, 2000, the
Motorist's Tire Care and
Safety Guide available from the
Tire Industry Safety Council provides useful tips for all consumers to
follow in maintaining their tires. This Consumer Focus, gathered by the
Federal Citizen Information Center, provides information and useful links about
the recall and general tire maintenance.
Beware of Buying Defective
- Once a month, inspect your tires
for patterns of uneven wear which could damage the tires.
- Once a month, and before every
long trip, check tire inflation pressure.
- Look at the tire placard or
owner's manual to see the maximum weight your vehicle can carry - DO NOT
OVERLOAD YOUR VEHICLE.
- Develop good driving habits such
as observing speed limits; avoiding fast stops, starts, and turns; avoiding
potholes and objects; and avoiding contact with curbs when driving or
- Keep your vehicle well maintained.
Rotate the tires regularly, get your wheels balanced, and have the front-end
aligned when necessary.
- Check the vehicle manufacturer's
recommendation before replacing a tire with a different size and/or
- Be aware that when the outside
temperature drops 10 degrees, the pressure in your tires drops about one or two
pounds per square inch.
- If you find that one of your tires
is losing pressure, take it to an expert for a complete internal inspection. If
a puncture is one-quarter inch or less and confined to the tread, it can be
On September 15, 2000, news reports
revealed that some used tire dealers were trying to capitalize on the tire
recall by reselling the recalled Firestone tires. This practice was brought to
light by an investigative report of Seattle television station KIRO. Reporters
bought the recalled tires from dealers who charged them $80 for a set of four.
The vehicle owner could then turn around and get replacement tires worth around
$500 from Firestone dealers. It is unknown how widespread this practice is
nationwide. Since these tires have been associated with many deaths and
injuries, this practice is unethical and has the potential to further
compromise the safety of drivers.
Tire Safety Tips:
If Your Tires Have Been Recalled
NHTSA recommends you have the
recalled tires replaced. Furthermore, if you have any of the tires listed in
Advisory consider replacing them (and retain the documentation), even
though there is no recall in effect for those.
NHTSA also recommends taking the
following steps if you have one of the recalled tire models on your
- Check your tires to be sure there
are no visible signs of a problem.
- Be sure your tires are properly
- Do not drive at a high rate of
speed, particularly in hot weather. If possible, choose roads with relatively
low speed limits.
- Make sure your vehicle is not
- Wear your seatbelt.
NHTSA states While these
precautions are good general guidelines to tire safety, they may not prevent a
| Tire Safety Alert
On Wednesday, August 9, 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone
(Firestone) and Ford Motor Company
jointly announced that Firestone would recall approximately 14.4 million tires.
These tires have a safety-related defect: the tread separates from the tire. The
National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) has received many complaints about full or
partial blowouts caused by this tread separation. NHTSA is investigating the
complaints. As of 10/17/00, NHTSA has determined that since 1993, 119 deaths
were probably due to failure of the defective tires. Firestone estimates that
about 6.5 million of these tires are still in service. The recall involves all
Firestone ATX and ATX II tires of the P235/75R15 size manufactured since 1991
and all Wilderness AT tires of that same size manufactured at Firestone's
Decatur, IL plant. Ford Motor Company installed many of these tires as original
equipment on their Ford Explorer SUV's and other vehicles.
On September 1, 2000 NHTSA issued a
Advisory stating that approximately 1.4 million additional tires not
covered by the recall might also have the safety defects (see NHTSA's online
chart to find the specific tire models and sizes involved). Of these 1.4
million, it is likely that even fewer are still in service. Most of these were
installed as replacement equipment - not on new vehicles.
Are Your Tires
If you think your tires may be part
of the 6.5 million-tire recall, see NHTSA's "
General Information" and "Answers to Frequently Asked Questions" online guides
to find if your vehicle has the defective tires. To do this, you'll need to
determine the model and size of the tires on your vehicle. You may have to
crawl under your vehicle with a flashlight to get the information you need off
of your tires. For more information on the additional 1.4 million tires in
question, see instructions at the bottom of NHTSA's Consumer
If you have the defective tires, you
should have your tires replaced as soon as possible. Firestone will replace the
tires, whether original equipment or replacement tires, even if you did not
make the original purchase and no matter how old or worn the tires are. To
locate the nearest authorized service center, call 1-800-465-1904 or visit
the Firestone web site. In addition, both Firestone
have informational pages on their web sites relating to the recall, replacement
of tires, and tire safety. How to File a
Complaint About Tire Failure
If you have experienced any tire
failure, you can report it to NHTSA by calling their toll-free Auto Safety
Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4263) or by completing an electronic
complaint form on their web site - www.nhtsa.dot.gov. To report a tire
failure, you may also want to notify
1-800-465-1904, or Ford at
This is just a brief overview. For
more information on tire safety check out these resources on the
World Wide Web:
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content of these web sites.
For more information on
other popular consumer issues check out our
Consumer Focus Archive.