Major Business News
Ford Recalls 50,000 New Explorers For Possible Cuts in Tire Treads
WASHINGTON -- Ford Motor Co. is recalling 50,000 brand new
Explorers because an assembly line conveyor belt that was
too narrow for the wider 2002 model may have cut the tire
It's the second recall of a three-month-old redesigned model
that was scrutinized to prevent such problems after last
year's Firestone tire recall.
The recall includes 50,000 four-door
Explorers built at Ford's plant in
Louisville, Ky. When the sport-utility
vehicles were loaded too far to the right
on the conveyor belt, it left cuts five to
nine inches long and half an inch deep in
one or both of the right tire treads.
A Ford official speaking on a condition of anonymity Sunday
described the cuts as cosmetic and said they do not affect
tire performance. The company has no reports of accidents or
injuries because of the problem, the official said.
The SUV is also made at a St. Louis plant, but it had a
different conveyor system that could accommodate the
two-inch wider models. Ford has widened its conveyor belt in
Louisville by three inches.
The auto maker began shipping the SUVs in mid-February and
many may still be on dealer lots. Ford plans to send a letter
to all owners by the end of May and will check and replace
damage tires for free at its dealerships.
The tires are Goodyear and Michelin brands. Ford stopped
putting Firestone tires on all its Explorers last year after
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s recall of 6.5 million tires.
At least 174 people have been killed and more than 700
injured when Firestone tires lost their tread or had other
Ford spent months scouring new Explorers for any defects
before putting them on sale, hoping to move beyond the
recall and avoid repeats of recent, recall-troubled launches of
the auto maker's Focus subcompact and small SUV, the
In April, Ford had its dealers pick up 56,652 new Explorers
and Mercury Mountaineers because the rear liftgate windows
could break when shut.
The Explorer has been the nation's top-selling SUV for 11
years, with a record 445,157 of them sold last year despite
bad publicity over the tire recall.