WASHINGTON-Faulty tire design and manufacturing by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., as well as Ford Explorer owners' lax maintenance of the tires, were to blame for accidents involving the Explorer, contends a report Ford Motor Co. has submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The report backs Ford's long-standing contention that the auto maker is blameless in the Explorer crashes, and runs counter to Bridgestone/Firestone's own studies which cite a number of factors-including vehicle design-for the accidents. Ford's report reviewed legal claims made for property damage or injuries involving 11 different sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks.
According to the report, the Explorer ranked eighth among the 11 in the number of legal claims, and failure of the left rear tire was to blame in 53 percent of the claims.
BFS began the recall of 6.5 million Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires, most of which were original equipment on the Explorer, on Aug. 9. NHTSA has linked the tires to accidents causing 174 deaths and more than 700 injuries.
Most of the fatal accidents involved rollovers of the Ford Explorer, and several reasons have been advanced for this by various sources, including the Explorer's high center of gravity and the recommended tire inflation pressure which Ford set at 26 psi.