June 5, 2001

Tire Threat: The Road to Recall

Ford Includes Europe in Campaign To Replace Certain Firestone Tires

A WSJ. COM News Roundup

FRANKFURT -- Ford Motor Co. expanded its tire-replacement program to Europe on Tuesday with plans to replace Firestone tires on about 23,000 vehicles across the continent.

The world's second-largest auto maker had earlier said no European vehicles would be affected by its massive campaign in the U.S. to address its concerns about the safety of certain tires made by Bridgestone/Firestone Corp., the U.S. unit of Japan's Bridgestone Corp.

Last month, the company offered to replace 13 million Firestone Wilderness AT tires on its vehicles. That came on top of Bridgestone/Firestone's own recall of 6.5 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires in August.

The tires are under investigation in at least 174 U.S. traffic deaths in accidents, mostly involving Ford Explorers, a popular utility vehicle.

Ford's European initiative affects all 15-, 16- and 17-inch Wilderness AT tires used on Ford Explorers, Expedition sport utility vehicles and Ranger and F-150 pickup trucks until 1999. After 1999, a different tire was used on those vehicles, the company said.

[Go] Ford Will Replace Millions of Tires; Congress Looks to Renew Hearings (May 23)

The vehicles will be outfitted with new tires, Ford spokesman Michael Droste said. Mr. Droste declined to say why Ford didn't include Europe in its initial announcement.

On May 22, Ford announced that would spend as much as $3 billion to replace Firestone tires for Ford vehicle owners, citing concern over potential tread-separation problems. The move followed Firestone's action to sever business ties with Ford, as the companies continued to accuse each other's products of being responsible for accidents that preceded last summer's recall.

Firestone also has asked government officials to investigate certain models of the Ford Explorer, which it claims is prone to rollovers.