CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Continental General Tire Inc. announced a "customer satisfaction program" offering free replacement of 140,000 ContiTrac AS tires, size P245/75R16, mounted on approximately 38,000 Lincoln Navigators, model years 1998 and 1999.
The Charlotte, N.C.-based company said the tires will be replaced without cost to Lincoln Navigator customers. An additional 20,000 tires sold in the replacement market also will be eligible for the program.
Conti General said the program does not apply to 17-inch (P255/75R17) ContiTrac AS tires on the Lincoln Navigator, which is manufactured by Ford Motor Co.
Representatives of CGT and Ford met Sept. 19 with officials of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to present background data on tire warranty adjustments and inform them of the planned program.
Both companies stressed that this action is not a safety-related recall and that there have been no serious accidents, injuries, litigation or deaths associated with the tires in question.
In a prepared statement, CGT said: "We are initiating this customer satisfaction program because a small percentage of 16-inch ContiTrac AS tires on the Lincoln Navigator are more susceptible to heat stress that can cause a condition described as belt lift in the shoulder area of the tire.
"Under certain conditions, this belt lift could cause a section of the tread belt package to detach from the tire casing and minor vehicle body damage could result.
"There have not been any reports of catastrophic tire failures causing loss of vehicle control. More often than not, the condition is detected when vehicle owners notice irregular tire wear, vibration or noise," CGT said.
The company said its warranty adjustment and property damage claims data "clearly demonstrate that the condition exists only in 16-inch ContiTrac AS tires manufactured prior to March of 1998."
On approximately that date, CGT said, modifications were made in the tire's manufacturing process, changing the profile of the extruded tread and improving the uniformity of the tire. "We have seen that it also increased the ability of this tire to handle heat stress that normally affects tire durability," the company said.
Although all Navigators built between January 1997 and March 1998 are subject to the program, CGT said it will replace only tires bearing DOT numbers AD70 449 017 through AD70 449 118.
As replacements, CGT said it will provide ContiTrac AS P245/75R16, General Grabber AW P255/70R16 and Ameri.660 AS P255/ 70R16 tires.
The company said it is shipping replacement tires overnight to Lincoln dealers and anticipates that all replacements will be completed within eight weeks. "We also encourage Navigator owners to see Continental General Tire dealers," the company said.