In August, Michelin saw a dramatic increase in sales of tires for pick-ups and sport utility vehicles as consumers flocked to dealerships seeking replacements for their recalled Firestone tires. Sales of light truck tires had double digit increases over the same month in 1999 and overall sales of tires for all vehicles jumped significantly versus year ago.

"Our stores have just been inundated," said Randy Clark, president of Dunn Tire Corporation in Buffalo, N.Y.

Michelin has increased production by 400 percent in response to the Firestone recall. Plants are operating around the clock to help get tires to consumers as quickly as possible. In addition, Michelin original equipment plants shifted production to manufacturing replacement tires.

Firestone previously announced it would reimburse consumers affected by the recall up to $100 per tire if they replace their tires with Michelin or other competitive brands. Firestone has also authorized reimbursement up to $140 per tire for those vehicle owners affected by the NHTSA Consumer Advisory issued on September 1, 2000.

Dealerships across the country have seen a large influx of concerned consumers with serious questions about their tires. So in addition to offering replacement tires, Michelin dealerships nationwide have been inspecting tires at no charge and offering guidance on proper maintenance.

"We have many customers with a lot of questions and we're just helping them understand the situation," explained Sean Furrier, operations manager for Western Tire Centers in Tucson, Ariz.

Dealers have also reported a change in the types of questions the average customer asks. The increased focus on tires precipitated by the recall has caused many consumers to ask for advice on basic tire care. Michelin dealers nationwide have fielded thousands of questions about tread depth, proper inflation and rotation.

"The number one thing we've been doing is spreading the gospel of correct tire pressure," said Chris Jones, president and owner of Tire Barn in Anderson, Ind.

In addition to help at the dealer level, Michelin is also offering consumers valuable information on proper tire maintenance on its website, www.michelin.com , and extended hours on its 1-888-MICHELIN consumer services line. Within minutes of arriving at the website, users can know the name and location of the five Michelin dealers nearest them, as well as answers to some of the most common tire questions.

Also on the site, consumers can access a database that lets them find out what size replacement tire is most appropriate for their vehicle before they go to a dealer. They can use the "Glossary" section to educate themselves on the way tires are sized and rated. The website also has an "Essential Tire Guide," containing useful information on proper inflation, tire wear and many other tips for maintaining reliable and efficient tires.

"We know that from the beginning this has been about more than simply finding the right tires to replace those recalled by Firestone," explained Alison Heiser, brand manager for Michelin. "Many people have questions about their tires, and as the industry leader we want to help however we can."

Michelin manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, maps and atlases covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C. Michelin North America employs 26,500 and operates 21 plants in 19 locations.