Friday, February 27, 2004

490,000 Steeltex tires for Ford Excursions recalled

The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Bridgestone/Firestone announced a recall Thursday of about 490,000 Steeltex tires linked to sport utility vehicle crashes that killed five people.

The move heads off an in-depth investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into the Steeltex Radial A/T LT265/75R16 Load Range D tires, which have been linked to six crashes. Three involved fatalities.

The tires - manufactured in Joliette, Quebec - were made for use on Ford Excursions from 2000 to 2002 and some early 2003 models.

Bridgestone/Firestone estimates about 297,000 of the recalled tires are still on the vehicles in the United States, and another 20,000 are in use internationally. The company said the others have probably already been replaced by the owners.

"We haven't identified a specific problem with the tires," company spokesman Dan MacDonald said. "The data suggested that there's an issue, and the decision was made that instead of having a long drawn-out investigation to figure out if there is a problem, let's just step up and replace the tires."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration first noticed a pattern of crashes and blowouts with Steeltex tires, federal officials said.

Information from Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, a division of Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc., confirmed there may have been a problem.

The recall comes 31/2 years after the company began a recall of 17 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires. More than 200 people were reported killed and hundreds more injured in rollover crashes after the tread on those tires separated.

Consumers can replace their tires with Steeltex and Bridgestone brands, as well as tires from the competition: Pirelli Scorpion AT, Pirelli Scorpion STR and BFGoodrich Rugged Trail TA.

Consumers can call Firestone toll free at: (800) 465-1904 or Ford toll free at: (800) 392-3673.

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