Firestone Expands Its Top Warranty, But Shortens Coverage to Three Years
                    November 3, 2000

                    By TIMOTHY AEPPEL
                    Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

                    Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. said it is expanding its premium tire warranty
                    to cover far more of its tires but is shortening the coverage period to
                    three years from five, quietly acknowledging that the age of a tire can
                    affect its durability.

                                         Tires naturally begin deteriorating soon after
                                         they are put to use. So the older a tire
                                         becomes, the more chance it has to develop
                                         structural problems that can lead to failures
                                         such as tread separations. The tire industry
                    offers an array of warranties based on varying age minimums as well as
                    mileage and other factors.

                    "It became clear we were doing our consumers a disservice by giving the
                    impression that they could expect their tires to last that long," a
                    Firestone spokeswoman said.

                    The change applies only to replacement tires and therefore doesn't
                    affect the majority of the 6.5 million tires recalled by Firestone in
                    August. Nearly all the tires now subject to recall were sold as original
                    equipment on Ford Motor Co.'s popular Explorer. Firestone is the U.S.
                    subsidiary of Japan's Bridgestone Corp.

                    Firestone announced its expanded warranty at a meeting this week in
                    Las Vegas of 4,000 of its dealers. The annual get-together, typically a
                    time when the company lays out promotion plans for the next year, was
                    overshadowed by Firestone's recall. The company used the event to
                    reassure dealers that it was committed to rebuilding consumer
                    confidence in the brand.

                    Under the new plan, nearly all passenger and light-truck tires sold by
                    dealers will be covered by warranties that pledge to replace tires free of
                    charge when they become "unusable for any reason attributed to
                    workmanship or factory defect" for the first three years after they are
                    bought, or four years from the date they are made or until they are
                    worn to 2/32nds of an inch of remaining tread depth, the
                    industry-recognized standard for a worn-out tire.

                    Previously, the premium warranty offered such coverage for five years
                    from purchase or six years from manufacture.

                    "What they're saying in essence is that they can't guarantee the tire
                    beyond three or four years," said Max Nonnamaker, an independent tire

                    Mr. Nonnamaker contends all steel-belted radials have a limited service
                    life and tire makers have done little to warn motorists about the age
                    limitations of tires.

                    Firestone said the change would mean the premium warranty now
                    applies to 97 tire lines, compared with only 53 before. The program also
                    extends a 30-day money-back guarantee, which allows drivers to get a
                    full refund for any reason within the first month of buying tires. The
                    company's standard warranty on replacement tires only extends 12

                    Write to Timothy Aeppel at