TUCSON, Ariz. (Feb. 8, 2001) — A former Firestone tire engineer turned consultant/expert witness is urging Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. to reach out to owners of older Explorers to make sure they don´t overlook their spare tire as a tire covered under the Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT recall.
Dick Baumgardner, owner of Tire Consultants Inc. in Alpharetta, Ga., made his appeal because of accidents he´s been asked to investigate involving the failure of Firestone tires that had been spares on Explorers for many years before being put into service.
Mr. Baumgardner estimates there may as many as a million such tires still in service, many on vehicles operated by the second, third or subsequent owner who may have overlooked the recall notice because the vehicle no longer was equipped with Firestones when it was bought.
He said the spare is particularly susceptible to failure because its mounting position under the rear of the vehicle exposes it to the heat cycles deemed detrimental to the tire´s integrity.
Bridgestone/Firestone disputes Mr. Baumgardner´s estimate, saying its records show more than 6.1 million tires have been replaced out of the estimated universe of 6.5 million tires outlined last August.