The Firestone Tire Controversy

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In May 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States issued a letter to the Ford Motor Co. and Firestone Inc. asking for information about the high incidence of tire failures on the Ford Explorer Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs). During July, Ford analyzed the data on tire failures. The analysis revealed that Firestone Radial 15 inch ATX and ATX II tires produced in North America and Wilderness AT tires produced at Decatur, Illinois Plant had very high failure rates with the treads peeling off. When the tires failed, the vehicle often rolled over and killed the occupants.

Firestone amid concerns over tread separation, accidents, injury and death announced a voluntary recall of all Radial ATX and ATX II and Wilderness AT tires. Around 6.5 million tires were recalled. These tires were original equipment on certain Ford Explorer SUVs, Mercury Mountaineer, Ford Ranger pick up trucks and Mazda Navajo and B-series pick up trucks. The Firestone tire recall was perhaps the biggest auto safety crisis in the US history. NHTSA put the death figure in February 2001 at 174 which has risen from 101 deaths reported in September 2000. However, analysts felt that there were as many as 250 deaths and more than 3000 injuries associated with the defective tires. Most of the deaths occurred in accidents involving the Ford Explorer and the victims and their families filed hundreds of lawsuits. In May 2001, Firestone announced that it was severing its ties with Ford and alleged that the problems in the Ford Explorer caused 174 deaths. Firestone alleged that Ford was trying to divert attention from the problems with Explorer. Ford and Firestone seemed to have known about the flaws in the tires for almost a year prior to the recall but it wasn't until NHTSA launched a preliminary investigation that Firestone announced a voluntary recall. Questions were raised about how Ford and Firestone responded to the first evidence of tire problems. Ford...
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