Local News

Faulty Firestone Tires May Be To Blame For Several Fatal Auto Accidents

Posted August 7, 2000

— If you have a sport utility vehicle like a Ford Explorer, you could be riding on a deadly tire. The government is investigating more than 200 complaints aboutFirestonetires blowing out with no warning, sometimes causing fatal accidents.

Ford Explorers are everywhere in the Triangle. Many drivers are riding on Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires.

Bridgestone/Firestone announced Wednesday a voluntary recall of 6.5 million tires. The recall is the result of 270 complaints to theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA). As many as 46 deaths and 80 injuries could be linked to Firestone tires.

Michelle Rashid went to Firestone to get her Wilderness tires inspected. She says she feels a little better after getting them checked.

"I still have a lot of information. I want to know, I mean, can a tire be perfectly fine one minute and can it blow the next minute," she says. "I mean they're fine now, but 10,000 more miles, is that going to be the thing that makes them blow?"

Sears does not stock the Firestone tires in question, but in the past, they would order them if customers asked for them. A Sears spokesman told CBS News that the company will no longer order or sell the tires until more information is out.

"We still have confidence that Ford and Firestone will come through for us," Rashid says. "That's all we can hope for right now."

Investigators say the tread on some of the tires separates from the core, sometimes while traveling at high speeds. Most of the accidents happened in states with warm climates.

Bridgestone/ Firestone says it will replace all recalled tires at no cost to the customer. The problem is the logistics of how and when that will be done.

Many drivers of the SUV's and light trucks that have the tires want them replaced immediately. Dealers are still trying to get answers.

"We're fighting a battle here trying to get information. We're getting more information from CNN than we are from Firestone," says Peter Duerksen of Capital Ford.

The recallis being handled in phases. North Carolina is part of the third phase.

Firestone dealers will inspect tires free of charge. Owners of the tires can call a Firestone dealer to schedule an appointment. Free replacement tires will not be given out until logistics are worked out.

For the nearest Firestone location, call1-800-465-1904.

The recall is the second largest in U.S. history. Because of that, Firestone officials are handling it in phases. North Carolina is in the third phase.


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