Bridgestone/Firestone has announced two voluntary recalls for relatively small batches of tires, crediting the company's internal analysis and review system for catching the defects.
The first and larger of the two is a recall of 18,912 Firestone FR690 tires, size P195/65R15, manufactured at Bridgestone/Firestone's Wilson, N.C., facility from April 12-15, 2002.
In addition, the tire maker is recalling 754 Widetrack Baja A/T tires, size 30x9.50R15, produced at its LaVergne, Tenn., plant during a three-week period beginning Sept. 23, 2001.
BFS was first alerted to a possible problem in the FR690 tires in late August, when Toyota Motor North America Inc. returned one of the tires, saying a customer had complained of a funny noise.
An internal analysis and review showed that a piece of equipment at Wilson malfunctioned during the four-day period in April when the FR690 tires were made. According to a Sept. 10 Bridgestone/Firestone release, the malfunction caused ``localized, intermittent pockets of air becoming trapped between the tread and the tread under-cushion'' in a small percentage of the tires made during that period.
This condition could cause a helicopter-like noise in the tires and may lead eventually to small, localized ``chunk-outs'' of tread material, the company said.
Bridgestone/Firestone's records showed that of the 18,912 FR690 tires made at Wilson during the four-day period, 890 were not properly processed for additional inspection. The company deemed it necessary to recall all the tires to ensure getting the possibly defective ones.
The recalled tires bear the DOT identification numbers W2C6T001402 and W2C6T001502, designating they were manufactured during the 14th and 15th weeks of 2002. They may have used as original equipment on the 2003 Toyota Corolla S and LE vehicles assembled between mid-April and early September 2002, the tire maker said.
As for the Baja A/T tires, those in question had incorrect markings on their sidewalls, violating federal safety standards. The maximum load ratings stated on the tires were smaller than the actual maximum load ratings in both English and metric markings, Bridgestone/Firestone said.
Also, the inflation pressures listed on the tires were incorrect in metric figures, though they were correct in the English version, the tire maker added.
The recalled Baja tires bear the DOT serial numbers W166- WB03801, W166WB03901 and W166WB04001.
The markings on them read: Max Load 350 Kg at 1985 Kpa cold; Max Load 900 lbs. at 50 PSI cold. They should read: Max Load 900 Kg at 350 Kpa cold; Max Load 1985 lbs. at 50 PSI cold.
In the case of FR690 tires, Bridgestone/Firestone will contact owners of the vehicles that may have the recalled tires by mail within the next several weeks and make replacements available free of charge through Firestone Tire and Service Centers and TiresPlus locations.
With the Baja tires, the company immediately will start contacting dealers who may have shipped them, to identify consumers who may have purchased them.
Tire owners identified by Widetrack Baja dealers or through tire registration records will receive recall letters within the next several weeks with instructions on how to receive their free replacement tires.
Consumers may call (800) 367-3872 to find the location of their nearest Firestone or TiresPlus locations to obtain FR690 replacements, or (800) 807-9555 to locate their nearest Widetrack Baja dealers. Information on both recalls is available on the company Web site, www.firestone.com.