62 Deaths Said Linked To Tires

August 15, 2000
By Justin Hyde

DETROIT – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has raised the number of deaths it believes are linked to Firestone tires under recall to 62.

NHTSA spokeswoman Liz Neblett said Tuesday the agency knew of 100 injuries related to the failures and has received more than 750 complaints. Last week, the agency said it was investigating 46 fatalities and 80 injuries related to the tires and had received about 270 complaints.

Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announced a recall last week of all P235/75R15 size radial ATX and ATX II tires, and Wilderness AT tires of the same size made in Decatur, Ill. Most of the 6.5 million 15-inch tires in question were installed on Ford trucks, notably the Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle.

Most of the reports of tire failure have involved tread separating from the tire, sometimes at high speed, causing blowouts and rollovers. Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone have not offered a theory for the failures, but have said hot weather plays a role.

John Lampe, executive vice president of Bridgestone/Firestone, said he couldn’t comment on the numbers until he received more information about their makeup. He did say he was not surprised that NHTSA had recorded a growing number of claims.

“Obviously as more media attention has been played on this more claims will become known,” he said.

Lampe said the company was still investigating the cause of the complaints.

Bridgestone/Firestone said Tuesday it would reimburse customers who had their tires replaced at Firestone dealers before the recall was announced, going back to Jan. 1.

The company also will reimburse customers up to $100 per tire for customers who had tires replaced at retailers other than Firestone dealers between Aug. 9 and Aug. 16.,/p>

“We believe this is a simple and fair way to make things right for our customers,” John Lampe, Bridgestone/Firestone’s executive vice president, said in a statement.

The company also is running ads Wednesday in more than 40 major newspapers nationwide.

Safety advocates and attorneys on Monday urged Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. to broaden the tire recall, saying the same problems that have been reported with the 15-inch tires affect all versions of the three tire models.

Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone said their analysis of claims data showed the recall was sufficient.