WASHINGTON (Aug. 14, 2000) — Auto safety advocates and angry consumers are joining together to call for a total recall of all Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires, not just those included in the recall Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announced Aug. 9.
Specifically, Public Citizen and Safetyforum.com called for Bridgestone/Firestone to expand the recall to include 16-inch as well as 15-inch tires, as well as Wilderness tires made at facilities other than the Bridgestone/Firestone plant in Decatur, Ill.
Bridgestone/Firestone has said the incidence of failure has been much higher for Wilderness tires from Decatur, which saw severe labor disputes in the mid-1990s, although the company says it does not yet know the reason for this. Ralph Hoar, director of Safetyforum.com, called the company´s singling out of Decatur "a red herring" and claimed the tread separation problems are inherent in the tire´s design.
"If this is a workmanship problem, I´ll eat your tie," Mr. Hoar said.
Regarding Safetyforum.com´s claims, a Bridgestone/Firestone spokeswoman said, "Anyone and any group can make unsubstantiated claims. Our data clearly show that the Wilderness A/T tires, with the exception of the 15-inch tire from Decatur, are good and well-produced tires, and even the failure rates for the Decatur tires are not alarmingly high."
Earlier, Bridgestone/Firestone said it has manufactured 48 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires since 1991. The current recall involves 6.5 million tires, and Bridgestone Corp. has taken a one-time charge of $350 million in anticipation of the recall´s total costs.