Firestone Is Pressured to Better Publicize Replacing of Tires Not Subject to Recall
                    October 17, 2000

                    Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

                    Attorneys general from 48 U.S. states and territories are stepping up
                    pressure on Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. to better publicize the
                    replacement of 1.4 million tires that are not subject to recall but rather
                    the focus of a government consumer advisory.

                                         The dispute underscores the complexities that
                                         can arise when a federal probe raises questions
                                         about the safety of a consumer product.
                                         Firestone, a unit of Japan's Bridgestone Corp.,
                                         agreed in August to voluntarily recall 6.5 million
                    tires, which were linked to more than 140 fatalities in the U.S. and
                    overseas. But a month later, after the National Highway Traffic Safety
                    Administration said it identified worrisome tread-separation problems
                    with an additional 1.4 million tires, Firestone refused to expand the
                    effort. The government couldn't order a recall, because it hadn't
                    completed its investigation.

                    Instead, Firestone implemented what it called a customer-satisfaction
                    program targeting those additional tires. Firestone said it would inspect
                    the tires for consumers and replace them free of charge if necessary or
                    if consumers demanded that.

                    The attorneys general, which have formed a working group to deal with
                    Firestone over recall-related issues, complain that the tire maker has
                    done little to promote the details of its customer satisfaction program.
                    Christine Pritchard, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eliot
                    Spitzer, says the Firestone program amounts to a "secret warranty," in
                    the sense that only those who learn about the program are able to take
                    advantage of it. Firestone says it hasn't tried to conceal the details of
                    the customer-satisfaction program from consumers, noting that this
                    information is listed on its Web site.

                    Separately, a Ford Motor Co. official acknowledged in an October 1999
                    internal memorandum that the company specified Firestone tires for
                    light trucks shipped to the Persian Gulf that were inadequate for the
                    extreme heat and harsh, high-speed driving conditions typical in the
                    region. Several people in the Gulf region died in 19 rollover accidents
                    involving the tires in question before Ford began replacing them with
                    Goodyear tires specially developed for that market, according to a
                    related, Sept. 15, 1999 Ford internal document. The Firestone tires sent
                    to the Gulf region aren't part of the company's recall.

                    "Firestone's position that the tire meets all quoted functional
                    specifications, and that it was not meant for the GCC market application
                    is confirmed by our research," Lisa A. Klein, Ford's executive director for
                    purchasing, said in her Oct. 1, 1999 memo to Carlos Mazzorin, the
                    company's group vice president for global procurement. "It appears that
                    Ford chose to use the North American specified tire in the GCC market,
                    and Firestone wasn't part of that decision."

                    This is partly why Firestone refused to shoulder any part of the $4.3
                    million Ford spent for the replacement, which it called a "customer
                    satisfaction" program and which began in July 1999. According to
                    another internal Ford memo dated August 27, 1999, and also written by
                    Ms. Klein, Firestone claimed the tires were made properly but not made
                    for severe driving conditions in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
                    Ford sold 6,755 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport utilities
                    between 1995 and 1999 in the Persian Gulf region, according to the
                    Aug. 27 memo.

                    A Ford spokesman, Jon Harmon, said, "As we have already said in
                    testimony, whenever we heard incidents of tire failures, we asked
                    Firestone to investigate, and they repeatedly assured us in markets
                    around the world that there was no tire problem. So we acted alone to
                    replace these tires with Goodyear tires. That's what happened, and the
                    rest of this is all Monday morning quarterbacking."

                                            -- Stephen Power contributed to this article.

                    Write to Timothy Aeppel at and Norihiko
                    Shirouzu at