Reader responds to pro-Ford letter
Editor's note: Like the writer of the following letter, more than one reader responded to the letter (July 2 issue) from Bo Wyatt, who challenged other dealers to ``set me straight'' if they disagreed with his statement that Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer sport-utility vehicle is not at fault in the Firestone tire recall.
Do you know tire dealers Alpio and Alex, to whose March 26 letters you were responding? If not, I might suggest you take more care in suggesting they are in the wrong business. At 20 years old, you still have a lot to learn. The more you learn, the more you will realize how much you have to learn.
I have been in the business since I was 7 years old, helping my father in the warehouse. I started punching the clock and working in the shop when I was 11. I represent my family's third generation in the tire business and have a Firestone ashtray given to my grandfather in 1934. Every day I learn something new related to the tire business.
You state it is plain as day that ``some'' ATX and Wilderness ATs are defective. Yes, and they have been recalled. In fact, many of the tires recalled were not defective.
The Ford Explorer does have problems, the same problems the Ford Bronco had 20 years ago. This has been compounded by the public demanding and the vehicle manufacturer responding with soft-riding tires-even to the extent of recommending a tire pressure woefully inadequate for the potential loads and uses. How can you expound on a vehicle's towing capacity (as Ford Motor Co. has done) yet recommend an inflation pressure that will not carry four adults.
As to your point that there have been few if any reports of rollover accidents involving Ford Explorers with Michelin or BFGoodrich tires, how many Michelins or BFGs were installed as original equipment on Ford prior to 2000?
I have seen hundreds of tire blowouts due to tread separations. Mostly, this occurred because people-for financial or other reasons-ignored a vibration or continued to run on a tire that was either separated or worn out. In telling of your own experience in doing so, you failed to mention how old the tires were that had half their original tread remaining. At your age, I am willing to bet you purchased the Explorer used, and as a veteran in the tire industry you know the warranty on the tires is only for four years, right?
I had a customer come in with Firestone R4 tires on his truck. His wife had run on a nearly flat tire until it blew out and put the vehicle in a ditch. The tread of the tire on the other side of the same axle was at or below the 2/32nds-inch limit. However, the customer just wanted a used tire put on to replace the one blownout. He said he would run the other tire more-even though he knew it was worn out. I can only surmise that his wife was not worth the cost of two used or new tires.
Yes, as you pointed out, lives could be saved if people had their tires checked and replaced them after they got old-even if there was tread remaining.
Bo, we need young people dedicated to the tire business-and I applaud your interest. However, you might want to devote a little more thought to things before writing and give some of the rest of us credit for our experience, which likely is much more extensive than your own at this point in your career.
Robert M. Pickrell Jr.
Royal Tire Co. Inc.
Regarding TB's July 2 editorial reminding dealers they're required by law to furnish customers with a card they can mail in to register their tires for use should a recall prove necessary, I contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ask what dealer members should do to comply. A spokesman for the agency told me they aren't too concerned about registering tires these days because any hint of a problem is likely to have the media raising enough hell to create a feeding frenzy among consumers.
I enjoy your newspaper and love the ``Mail Call'' section. Keep up the good work!
California Tire Dealers Assn.-South
Granada Hills, Calif.
More recall feedback
This whole dispute between Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. and Ford Motor Co. can be explained by two simple facts:
Our industry seems to be in a state of denial. Tire failures happen every day all over the world. Every brand, every manufacturer experiences these sorts of problems, whether they're due to a road hazard or a tire defect. If they didn't happen commonly, why would we offer road hazard or manufacturer warranties?
The auto industry is aware of this and should be able to build vehicles that not only can withstand such common occurrences, but do it safely. The one and only vehicle apparently not capable of doing this at an acceptable level is the Ford Explorer.
If Ford really was interested in the safety of the driving public, why would they offer to replace Firestone Wilderness AT tires-which have an adjustment rate of 15 per million-with a brand that has an adjustment rate of 124 per million? Blame shifting, not safety, appears to be Ford's major concern.
This is a company that refuses to even consider that the Explorer may be part of the problem. Real-world facts, real corporate denial. As a tire industry, we all should feel insulted by the head-turning and finger-pointing by Ford.
I happen to be the owner of two Ford products and have had excellent service from both. As a consumer, I urge Ford to stand up and take responsibility for the problem with its vehicle. We, as a tire industry, should pull together and demand it.
The blame game is waiting for its next victim and we know it won't be Firestone. There are very few Firestones left on the Explorer and it's going to be a long, hot summer.
Reed Tire & Service Center
Fort Smith, Ark.
My father and I own a new- and used-tire shop, selling almost all brands. Lately it has become harder to sell Firestone tires due to all the negative publicity.
Over the years, we have sold hundreds of sets of the Firestone ATX, ATX II and never once have experienced problems with them-only examples of consumer neglect.
I agree with someone's comment in the July 16 issue that virtually every customer who experiences a nail-hole puncture in his or her tires now is ready to argue that it blew out or is separating and that they want a new one. What a job Ford has done playing mind games with the motoring public.
I stand behind the Firestone brand and will continue to sell and uphold its selection of tires. Thanks Firestone!
John M. Anderson
Anderson Tire & Recycling