Company Urges All Drivers to Maintain Proper Inflation in Their Tires

Saying the safety of consumers is the company's first concern, today Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., announced a voluntary recall of all Firestone Radial ATX and Radial ATX II tires in size P235/75R15 produced in North America, including Mexico, and Wilderness AT tires in size P235/75R15 produced at the Decatur, Illinois plant. The recall includes original equipment and replacement tires of that size, regardless of the vehicle's manufacturer. Vehicle owners will be notified of the recall by mail. Bridgestone/Firestone will replace all of these tires with brand new Wilderness AT or other Bridgestone/Firestone tires. If necessary, the company will obtain other sources of supply.

The recall was announced by Gary Crigger, Executive Vice President of Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., at a Washington, DC news conference. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently conducting a preliminary evaluation of the tires in response to questions relating to failures of these tires. The company is not limiting the recall. There have been approximately 14.4 million of these tires produced. The company estimates that the number of tires still in use and involved in the recall is 6.5 million, which includes 3.8 million Radial ATX and ATX II tires and 2.7 million Wilderness AT tires.

"At Bridgestone/Firestone, nothing is more important to us than the safety of our customers," said Crigger. "We felt we must take this extraordinary step as a precaution to ensure consumer safety and consumer confidence in our brands. So, no matter how old the tires, no matter how many miles they have on them, we will replace them with new tires."

Crigger said, "Throughout this process, we have been working very closely with Ford Motor Company and NHTSA to determine the cause of the accidents involving vehicles with these tires. While we have not determined what, if any, problem there may be with these tires, our review of the data suggests three things."

Although noting that accidents involving these tires are rare in comparison to the millions of tires produced, he said that the data shows:

1. The number of reported incidents with the P235/75R15 Radial ATX and ATX II is higher than with other sizes in this line;

2. The Decatur, Illinois plant is over-represented in the accident claims and reports compared with other plants;

3. The majority of the incidents are in the southern-most states of Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, which suggests there may be a direct correlation between heat and tire performance.

"In addition," Crigger said, "the abundance of concern surrounding these tires clearly indicates the need for this action."

The company also urged all consumers to take additional steps to increase the lifespan and safety of their tires by maintaining proper inflation.

"When under inflated, all radial tires generate excessive heat," Crigger said. "Driving on tires in this condition can lead to tread separation. Maintaining the proper inflation level will enhance the performance and lifespan of these tires."

For the owners of the P235/75R15 size tires in the ATX, ATX II produced in North America, including Mexico, and Wilderness AT tires produced at the Decatur, Illinois plant:

  • Customers who have a recalled tire will receive a letter from the company notifying them of the recall and the steps they need to take. Customers who need assistance should call the toll-free customer service number at 800-465-1904.

  • Those who have a recalled tire should call their nearest local
    Firestone retailer to set up an appointment for an exchange.
    Because the preponderance of incidents is in the four southern states
    and given the limited supply of replacement tires at this time, the
    company will be undertaking a three phase recall starting in Arizona,
    California, Florida and Texas. The second phase for the recall will be implemented in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada,
    Oklahoma and Tennessee. The final phase will include the remainder of
    the states.

  • Keep non-Ford vehicles with Wilderness AT tires at the pressure
    recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

  • All vehicle owners using Wilderness tires should keep their
    tires inflated at the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. For owners of Ford Explorers or Mercury Mountaineers, with P235/75R15 ATX and Wilderness AT tires on their vehicles, Ford recommends these tires be maintained at a minimum of 26 psi. At the request of Firestone, Ford has evaluated the performance of these tires at 30 psi and has determined that the vehicles maintain good performance characteristics at this higher pressure. Ford recommends a tire pressure range of 26-30 psi. Firestone recommends a tire pressure of 30 psi.

    Consistent with the company's long-standing policy of commitment to customer satisfaction and service, all Wilderness tire owners were urged to contact their nearest company-owned service center for a free inspection.

    "We will inspect each customer's tires for damage or excessive wear, while checking to make sure the tires are inflated to the level specified by the vehicle's manufacturer," said Crigger.

    Crigger reiterated that these steps were being taken to protect consumer safety and satisfaction. "We extend our condolences to families that have lost loved ones in accidents. We also apologize to our customers for the inconvenience this recall causes and we ask for their patience," he said.

    Nashville, Tennessee based Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., is the largest subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation of Japan, the world's largest tire and rubber manufacturer. Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., develops, manufactures and markets Bridgestone, Firestone, Dayton and private brand tires. The company also produces Firestone air springs, roofing materials, synthetic rubber and industrial fibers and textiles.