Most of the Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires are on
Ford Explorers, the industry's top-selling SUV, but the recall will
include tires on all brands of vehicles, the source said on
condition of anonymity. The recalled tires will be replaced by
other Firestone tires, the source said.
Bridgestone/Firestone spokeswoman Marianna Deal said the company
will hold a news conference on Wednesday in Washington regarding
the tires. Ford Motor Co. officials will also attend.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received
270 complaints, including reports of 46 deaths and 80 injuries,
about failing Firestone truck tires.
The complaints alleged that Firestone tires peel off their
casings, sometimes while the light trucks or SUVs are traveling at
Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford and Nashville-based
Bridgestone/Firestone, which is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based
Bridgestone Corp., had insisted the tires are safe, but the source
told The Associated Press that the two companies decided on a
recall after a private meeting with NHTSA investigators Tuesday.
Liz Neblett, a NHTSA spokeswoman in Washington, confirmed that a
meeting occurred, but declined to elabord to comment on
whether Firestone had decided to issue a recall. "At this point,
we have no news," Sizemore said.
Martin Inglis, vice president for Ford North America, said tires
are one of the few features of a new vehicle that are warranted by
a supplier instead of the automaker.
"Any time a Ford customer is at risk in any shape or manner, we
want to avoid any problems," he said.
Discount Tire, Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck and Co. have
stopped selling the tires because of safety concerns.
Ford has replaced Firestone tires for free on vehicles sold in
Venezuela, Ecuador, Thailand, Malaysia, Colombia and Saudi Arabia
after tires failed in those countries, but has resisted pressure to
do so in the United States, saying the matter was under
The recall will begin immediately in Southern states and
eventually spread nationwide, the source said.
Most of the accidents reported to NHTSA came from Texas and
Southern and Southwestern states with warmer climates. Heat can
effect tire tread bonding and may be associated with an increased
rate of tread separation.
General Motors Corp., Nissan Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and
Subaru also sell the Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires
as original equipment on SUVs and pickups.
All have said they have received no complaints about the tire.
The NHTSA investigation was opened in May and in the preliminary
inquiry stage. An investigation eventually can lead to a recall,
but many are dropped.