WASHINGTON (May 16, 2000) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a preliminary evaluation into whether the Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires, which are original equipment on various Ford sport-utility vehicles and pickups, have a defect leading to tread separation and blowout.
The agency reports having received 90 complaints of separation and failure on these tires, leading to 33 crashes, four deaths and 27 injuries. "It´s impossible to say where this might lead," a NHTSA spokesman said. "We don´t even know now what model years and models of tires are involved."
Announcement of the investigation followed closely on news reports from the Chicago Sun-Times and other sources which blamed tire tread separations for 43 highway deaths over the last decade.