WASHINGTON (May 23)—The president of a company that processes and investigates road hazard warranty claims on tires said she has documented hundreds of tread separation complaints against Firestone Steeltex tires on recreational vehicles in the past three years. "We've had complaints from mobile home owners whose Steeltex tires lost their treads, one right after the other, in the course of a year," said Diana Becker, president of Capital Administrators, which investigates claims for the tire road hazard warranty company Tire Guard. Bridgestone/Firestone, however, said the high number of Steeltex claims on RVs is due to chronic tire underinflation and overloading in those vehicles, as well as the sheer numerical popularity of the Steeltex as an original equipment tire on them. "This is a case where you really have to check the ratio of failed tires, not the numbers," said a spokesman for BFS, which regularly issues consumer advisories about the dangers of underinflating and overloading RV tires. When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration dropped its investigation of Steeltex tires in April 2002, it noted these very facts, the spokesman said. "While the Steeltex Load Range E failure frequencies are relatively high when compared with other Steeltex tires, these figures are low when compared with some competitor tires of the same load rating," NHTSA wrote. Becker, meanwhile, said she would forward her documentation of Steeltex tread separations to Joseph L. Lisoni, the Pasadena, Calif., plaintiffs' attorney who petitioned NHTSA to reopen its Steeltex investigation. That decision is expected shortly.