Firestone or Ford Recall?
Allowing the Explorer to go into production in 1989 by lowering the air pressure so the tires would be softer and help stabilize the vehicle tells me Ford was not concerned about the consumer, but about meeting its production deadlines.
Tires are intended to move the vehicle from point A to point B, along with offering performance in handling, traction, cornering and braking. They're connected to the axle that supports the vehicle by springs—either leaf or coil. Shock absorbers and sway bars help stabilize the vehicle.
The vehicle has no problem going from point A to point B. The problem is with rollover and stability of the vehicle. So why are the tires being recalled and not the Explorer?
Yes, I know the tread is peeling off the tires. But that's the same problem any tire will have when it's overloaded or underinflated.
Come on America. Look at the performance you're receiving from those Firestone tires and make a wise decision!
Jack L. Barber
Tire Starz marketing director
Future Tire Co.
Old Bethpage, N.Y.
As a casings dealer handling thousands of casings, I see what tires are—and aren't—suitable for retreading and have never seen a problem with the Firestone ATX. In fact, among various tire brands in that size (P235/75R15), they are among the most retreadable.
It's sad that people died in accidents involving those tires. But how many tires had steel cords hanging out of them before failure occurred? How many had insufficient air pressure or were improperly repaired?
Maybe the government should inspect passenger cars, SUVs and light trucks the way larger trucks are. Imagine how many accidents could be prevented if they also were checked for bald tires.
Steve's Used Tires
In response to Firestone dealers complaining about the additional burden placed on them by the recall—wake up!
Granted, the recall did come at our busiest time and has created additional work for us. But how many advertising dollars do we normally spend trying to get people to call or visit us? Here, we have Ford Explorer owners (mostly) coming to our location, including many who previously were not our customers. We can choose to view this as a burden or an opportunity to overwhelm them with our customer service. Isn't that what we independent tire dealers pride ourselves on?
And in return for serving these "new customers" we receive "only" $20-30 per tire! I wish the return was that good on my local newspaper and television advertising.
I believe Bridgestone/Firestone has bent over backwards to make the recall fair to everyone concerned. We remain committed to Bridgestone/Firestone and their products.
Balswick Tire Shop Inc.
As dealer Barry Steinberg wrote in his (Sept. 25) letter, we also are finding the left rear tire on Ford SUVs (most prone to failure).
Many vehicles we see originally were Ford "program cars" on which auto dealerships did not check the tires before reselling them.
Also, we've had motorists try to replace more than one set of recalled tires on the same vehicle. You know our reply.
John H. Gates Sr.
As a Bridgestone/Firestone distributor, we're wondering why many BFS company-owned stores are following Ford Motor Co.'s list of recommended non-Firestone products rather than replacing recalled tires with the Firestones available.
Also, why is the Ford Explorer practically the only vehicle affected? As a tireman, I think Ford has the problem—not Bridgestone/Firestone.
The general news media has done a poor job reporting the facts concerning the importance of tire inflation. We should lobby for the truth to come out. Any ideas? If so, let's talk.
Newtown Tire & Service
Editor's note: Tire Business invites dealers to take part in a special one-day field sampling by measuring and reporting the pressure of their customers' tires. The survey's collective findings will be published in the Nov. 6 issue. See page 19 for details.
Did Bridgestone/Firestone mishandle it (the ATX, Wilderness AT recall)? Would Ford produce another Edsel? Would Coca-Cola change its formula again?
How could BFS have mishandled this fiasco in the same way Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. mishandled the 500 problem in the 1970s. (There's) no excuse.
Southwest Research Institute
San Antonio, Texas
This is in response to the (Aug. 28) letter from D. Keith Lauer, who was making a point about setting inflation pressure at the tire manufacturer's recommended psi rather than the auto maker's recommendation for the specific vehicle on which they're installed.
Auto makers spend millions designing, testing and evaluating their products. They make specific recommendations on tire inflation pressure based on the results of their tests and marketing goals.
I'm confident that—without fail—every tire maker is going to "recommend" setting the inflation pressure according to the vehicle manufacturer's specification.
I think Mr. Lauer is looking at the markings on the tire's sidewall and seeing the manufacturer's "warning" for maximum inflation pressure (which typically is 35 psi for "P-metric" tires). That is not the tire maker's recommended inflation pressure for all applications. It's the maximum amount of pressure the tire is designed to carry.
In 13 years of working at the tire manufacturer level, I found many dealers simply install 35 psi in all tires. This does an injustice to customers and can be dangerous in applications requiring a different pressure for front and rear tires.
Ford recommended 26 psi for the Explorer for a variety of reasons such as ride, safety, handling, stopping control and tire wear.
Without proper maintenance, any vehicle or tire represents a significant failure risk—some perhaps more so than others.
The answer is to set inflation pressure correctly for the vehicle and not overinflate or underinflate the tires for any reason.
Support show exhibitors
As chairperson of the Tire Association of North America Suppliers Advisory Committee and an exhibitor at the annual SEMA/ ITE convention in Las Vegas, I want to bring something to your readers' attention.
Many companies promote and exhibit at the SEMA/TANA International Tire Exposition held in Las Vegas in November each year. They spend in aggregate millions of dollars each year in exhibition space, booths, promotional material and advertising. They invest in TANA by being members of its organization.
These TANA members help make Industry Week the most comprehensive automotive aftermarket event in North America.
Unfortunately, not all companies that are in Las Vegas during Industry Week are supporting TANA and the convention.
Some companies take advantage of SEMA's and TANA's marketing efforts to attract dealers to Las Vegas, then offer "off-site" exhibits at hotels not part of the SEMA/TANA block.
They will invite you to take a free limo ride to their hotel suites where they will offer you food and drinks. Of course, they are doing this with the sole intention of luring you to do business with them.
Although none of their activities are illegal, in my opinion, they are unethical.
These companies do not exhibit at the convention, they are not buying hotel rooms that SEMA/TANA has committed to, and they are not supporting the convention. They simply are taking advantage of all the hard work and monies spent by those reputable companies that are exhibiting at the convention. And they are taking attendees away from the convention floor.
So next time you are approached by someone at the convention to take a limo ride, ask for their booth number at the convention. If they are not exhibiting at the convention, tell them you are not interested. Why would you want to do business with someone like that?
Wayne C. Croswell
ASA Tire Systems