NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 26, 2004) — Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) is replacing 297,000 Firestone Steeltex Radial A/T tires, size LT265/75R16, Load Range D, in what it calls a voluntary safety campaign.
The tires—all original equipment on 2000-2002 and some 2003 Ford Excursions—were manufactured in Joliette, Quebec, between March 1999 and December 2002.
Preliminary data BFS reviewed as part of its early warning system suggested the tires were performing below expectations, the company said in a press release. A company spokesman told Tire Business although the Joliette Load Range D tires performed well in the field when properly inflated and not overloaded, there were reports of impact damage in underinflated, overloaded tires that were over and above what the company expected in those conditions.
The spokesman said while the actual production number is 490,000 tires, 297,000 is the estimated number of those tires still on the road.
Because BFS no longer makes the Steeltex Radial A/T tires in Load Range D, Ford Motor Co. and BFS will replace them free of charge with the same model in Load Range E, and also with the Steeltex R4SII LR E, the Bridgestone Duravis M773II LR E, the Pirelli Scorpion AT and Scorpion STR, and the BFGoodrich Rugged Trail TA.
BFS faces a March 17 court hearing in the California Superior Court at Indio, where a plaintiffs' attorney seeks certification of his class-action lawsuit seeking the court-ordered recall of some 30 million Steeltex tires. The BFS spokesman said that, if anything, the voluntary campaign bolsters the company's argument that the tires are safe.
“This is proof that we're committed to safety,” he said. “We'll identify and review the data on our tires, and if we find any irregularities, we'll replace the tires before they become a problem.”
He pointed out that the campaign involves just one of 103 Steeltex models made to more than 300 individual specifications. “The data show clearly that all the tires are performing well,” he said.