Ford defends tire recall
August 25, 2000: 12:35 a.m. ET

No. 2 automaker, facing probe, stresses its tire replacement plan is best
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Ford Motor Co. Thursday dismissed demands that it should expand a recall of Firestone tires linked to 62 deaths and vowed to continue to update consumers as supplies of replacement tires become available. At the same time, a congressional committee said it would send investigators to Ford's headquarters to review these efforts.

Speaking at a news conference at the automaker's headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., Ford officials said 13.3 percent of the Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires have been replaced so far.

But officials bristled at calls for an expansion of the recall for all the tires.

"There are some groups who say that Firestone's tire recall should be expanded," said Helen Petrauskas, vice president of environment and safety engineering. "They offer small bits of information but lack the complete picture. These kinds of suggestions will make the situation worse."

But former tire consultant Max Nonnamaker said Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. should expand its recall to different tire sizes because of a longstanding problem with a bonding compound used on steel-belted radials.

Responding, Ford said such an expansion would mean good tires being diverted and used to replace good tires, meaning longer waits for people with defective tires to replace.

"That kind of approach, which is not based on good information, will cause more harm with no added benefit," Petrauskas said.

Meanwhile, the House Commerce Committee said it would send investigators to Ford's headquarters on Friday regarding the recall. Ford has arranged for "committee staff to meet with relevant Ford personnel and to have access to relevant documentary materials," Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas Bliley said in a letter to Ford Chief Executive Officer Jacques Nasser confirming the visit.

graphicBridgestone/Firestone Inc. earlier this month announced the recall of 6.5 million of its tires that have been linked to at least 62 deaths that occurred when the tires blew out or the tread peeled away.

The tires have been used on Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Toyota, Nissan and Subaru vehicles for several years, but most accidents reported to traffic safety officials have involved the best-selling Ford Explorer.

The No. 2 automaker has not released estimates on how much the recall will cost. The Commerce Committee, meanwhile, has said it will hold a hearing on the subject but no date has been set. The Senate Commerce Committee, for its part, will hold a hearing on Sept. 6 and has asked Nasser, Firestone Executive Vice President John Lampe and the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Sue Bailey to testify.

A committee aide said the hearing will look into how NHTSA looks for defects, how the automobile industry interacts with the agency, and whether new legislation or funding may be necessary. The aide added NHTSA has been briefing the Senate committee's staff on the recall.

Ford (F: Research, Estimates) shares rose 3/8 to 27-3/4 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. Back to top

-- from staff and wire reports


Bridgestone-Firestone - Former Firestone employee urges recall of all Wilderness models - August 24, 2000

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