Firestone Recalling Steeltex Tire Model
Bridgestone/Firestone announced a recall Thursday of about 490,000 Steeltex tires linked to sport utility vehicle crashes in which five people were killed.
The move headed off an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of Firestone’s Steeltex Radial A/T LT265/75R16 Load Range D tires, which have been linked to six crashes, three of which involved fatalities.
The tires, manufactured in Canada, were made for use on 2002-03 Ford Excursions and some early 2003 models.
Bridgestone/Firestone estimated that about 297,000 of the recalled tires were still on the vehicles in the U.S. and that an additional 20,000 were in use internationally. The company said the others probably had been replaced by the owners.
“We haven’t identified a specific problem with the tires,” said Dan MacDonald, spokesman for Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. “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.”
NHTSA first noticed a pattern of crashes and blowouts with Steeltex tires, federal officials said.
“We were heading toward opening a defect investigation,” NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson said.
The recall comes 3 1/2 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.
A lawsuit accuses the tire maker of using substandard materials to make several Steeltex models. A hearing is scheduled next month in Indio to determine whether the suit should become a class-action case.
The lawsuit seeks at least $1 billion in reimbursement to motorists and a recall of Steeltex R4S, R4SII and A/T tires.