NHTSA issues Windstar warning
WASHINGTONThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reiterated its warning to owners of Ford Windstar minivans, model years 1988-2003, that they must take their vehicles to Ford dealerships to be inspected for signs of rear axle corrosion.
Ford Motor Co. recalled about 500,000 Windstar minivans sold in Salt Belt states because of a defect that can cause the rear axles to weaken and crack after exposure to salt, NHTSA said. This defect potentially can cause loss of vehicle control and resulting crashes, the agency said.
Used Windstar minivans are stacking up at some Ford Motor Co. auto dealerships' lots as they await parts to repair the vehicles, according to a recent article in Automotive News. As the number of stored minivans continue to grow, Ford's costs for the recall also are rising.
Dealers estimate Ford is paying about $38 a day to provide rental vehicles to affected Windstar owners, which could amount to $2,000 or more per customer by the time the parts are in. In rare cases, Ford will offer to buy back the vehicle at the top-end of the Kelley Blue Book value. The company also offers a $2,500 incentive toward the purchase of a new Ford vehicle or $500 toward a used vehicle.
Windstar owners should go to Ford's website, www.ford.com, and enter their vehicle identification numbers to see if their minivans are included in the recall, NHTSA said.
Meanwhile, the agency said, Windstar owners whose vehicles haven't yet been inspected should look for potential signs of rear axle corrosion. These include the top of the rear tires tilting inward (negative camber); excessive bouncing while driving; a banging sound when driving over bumps; or fishtailing in the rear end of the vehicle.
Goodyear plant offered $2 million
UNION CITY, Tenn.Goodyear is considering a no strings attached $2 million offer from the state of Tennessee to invest in operations and equipment upgrades at its Union City passenger and light truck tire plant, a spokeswoman for the tire maker said.
The deal involving the Union City plant, United Steelworkers (USW) Local 878 leaders, state Rep. Judy Barker and the Tennessee Department of Community and Economic Development has not yet been accepted, as Goodyear is waiting to make a decision until it finishes evaluating capital requirements for the operation in the coming year.
As of now, there is no timeline of acceptance or denial for the monetary offer, but the spokeswoman said the firm is considering the package in its planning process.
The factory is under a four-year labor contract with the USW ratified Sept. 18, 2009. However, under the contract, it is the only one of Goodyear's seven U.S. plants that remains unprotected from closure. Under that pact, about 500 associates at the plant accepted buyouts last year.
Akron-based Goodyear has been moving tire-building equipment from Union City to its plant in Lawton, Okla., during the course of the year, but the company has not announced plans to close the Union City plant.
EPA issues rule on refrigerant
WASHINGTON The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) covering HFL-1234yf, a new refrigerant designed for motor vehicle air conditioning units.
According to the SNUR, HFO-1234yf is approved for use as a refrigerant only in new motor vehicles, and any company planning to use it for other purposes must first obtain the EPA's approval. Anyone who intends to manufacture, import or process the substance must notify the agency at least 90 days before beginning, so the EPA may review and, if necessary, prohibit or limit the proposed activity.
HFO-1234yf is a non-ozone-depleting gas. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must review and approve alternatives for ozone-depleting refrigerants that do not present a significantly greater risk than the substances they replace. However, last January the Automotive Service Association (ASA) wrote the EPA recommending a certification process and equipment requirement for all potential users of HFO-1234yf. The flammability of the substance made those requirements urgently necessary, the ASA said.
Bald tires a big issue in U.S.
WASHINGTONTwenty-eight million vehiclesnearly 11 percent of the cars and trucks in the U.S.have at least one bald tire, according to a survey sponsored by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).
In other words, of the 39.7 million motorists (according to AAA estimates) who will drive to their destinations this Thanksgiving, nearly 4 million will be at risk from at least one bald tire, the RMA said.
The 6,300-vehicle survey is part of the RMA's ongoing efforts to educate motorists about the dangers posed by bald and underinflated tires. The association noted that checking a tire's tread depth is as simple as sticking a penny upside-down into a tire tread. If all of Lincoln's head is visible, the tire should be replaced.
Wear bars, spaced intermittently in the bottoms of tread grooves, also are good indicators of a tire's tread depth, the RMA said. When wear bars appear even with the outside of the tread, the tire should be replaced, it said.
But 9 percent of all motorists never check their tires' tread depths, the association said, and 64 percent have no idea how to tell if their tires are bald.
TRIB office has a new address
PACIFIC GROVE, Calif.The Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau (TRIB) has a new address.
The organization, which recently named David Stevens its new managing director, is now located at 591 Lighthouse Ave., Suite 15, Pacific Grove, Calif. 93950-2662.
TRIB said Mr. Stevens will be the new main contact for all correspondence. His e-mail address is [email protected]
The TRIB office can be reached by calling 831-372-1917, by fax at 831-372-9210 or via e-mail at [email protected] Its toll-free number in the U.S. and Canada is 888-473-8732. TRIB's website is www.retread.org.
During the recent SEMA Show and Global Tire Expo in Las Vegas, TRIB's board of directors announced the hiring of Mr. Stevens (see story on page 1).
Coming up in TB
AKRONHave you missed any of the previously published directories in Tire Business?
The Dec. 6 issueour Book of Listswill include listings of tire manufacturers, private brand, import brand and associate brand tire marketers, and trade associations.