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Consumer Focus: Tire Safety Alert
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.

Image of a pile of tires. General Tire
Safety Tips

  • 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 parking.
  • 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 construction.
  • 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 safely repaired.
Beware of Buying Defective Used Tires

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.

Image of a man carrying tires.

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 NHTSA's Consumer 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 vehicle:

  • Check your tires to be sure there are no visible signs of a problem.
  • Be sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • 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 overloaded.
  • Wear your seatbelt.

NHTSA states “While these precautions are good general guidelines to tire safety, they may not prevent a tire failure.”

Image of a tire.  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 Consumer 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.

Image of a man changing tires.

   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 Advisory.

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 and Ford 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 - To report a tire failure, you may also want to notify Firestone at 1-800-465-1904, or Ford at 1-800-392-3673.


Other Resources

This is just a brief overview. For more information on tire safety check out these resources on the World Wide Web:

Web Sites*:

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