AKRON (July 31, 2006) — Bridgestone/Firestone made the right decision in choosing to renew its informational campaign urging motorists to return any Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT P-metric light truck tires leftover from the firm's August 2000 recall effort and from a voluntary replacement program in October 2001.
Now it's time for the rest of the industry to be vigilant.
The tire maker said it retrieved more than 95 percent of the 6.5 million affected tires, an outstanding return for a recall. Apparently a number of those tires not recovered still are in operation—many as spares—with some having been put into use as replacements. A few of these allegedly have been involved in accidents.
To the company's credit, it did not resist the action initiated by Sean Kane, president of the safety group, Safety Research & Strategies Inc., despite the tremendous effort it already has made to remove the tires from service. Mr. Kane had written the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asking the agency to open an inquiry into the BFS recall.
Instead, the Nashville, Tenn.-based tire maker consulted with NHTSA and decided on this new course of action.
To help round up any remaining tires affected by the previous recall efforts, BFS will send letters to current U.S. and Canadian owners of Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer and Mazda Navajo sport-utility vehicles, on which the recalled tires were original equipment.
The letters will urge drivers of these vehicles—many of whom weren't owners of them at the time of the first recall—to check their tires to see if they are included in the latest recall.
The company also will notify all Firestone company-owned stores and participating authorized Firestone dealers, reminding them to be on the lookout for the tires.
But to retrieve as many of the remaining tires as possible, the entire tire industry should be keeping an eye out for them as well.
As such, we encourage all retail tire outlets—including independent tire dealers, the tire departments of mass merchandisers and warehouse clubs, service stations, independent garages, tire company-owned stores and car dealerships—to advise their tire personnel to check for these tires when servicing their customers' vehicles.
That means not only examining the tires mounted on the vehicles but also making sure to check the spares.
With the entire industry paying attention, there's a good chance any remaining tires will be identified quickly and taken out of service once and for all—a good thing for everyone involved.