NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 26)—Bridgestone/Firestone is replacing 297,000 Firestone Steeltex Radial A/T tires in what it calls a voluntary safety campaign.
The tires—all size LT265/75R16, Load Range D and original equipment on 2000-2002 and some 2003 Ford Excursions—were manufactured in Joliette, Quebec between March 1999 and December 2002. A BFS spokesman said the company produced 490,000 of the tires but estimates only 297,000 still are on the road.
Preliminary data BFS reviewed as part of its early warning system suggested that the tires were performing below expectations, the company said in a press release. A company spokesman said that although the Joliette Load Range D tires performed well in the field when properly inflated and not overloaded, there were reports of impact damage in underinflated, overloaded tires that were over and above what the company expected in those conditions.
BFS no longer makes the Steeltex Radial A/T tires in Load Range D, so Ford Motor Co. and BFS will replace them free of charge with the same model in Load Range E, or with the Steeltex R4SII LR E; the Bridgestone Duravis M773II LR E; the Pirelli Scorpion AT and Scorpion STR; and the BFGoodrich Rugged Trail TA.
BFS faces a March 17 court hearing in the California Superior Court at Indio, where plaintiffs' attorneys seek certification of his class-action lawsuit seeking the court-ordered recall of some 30 million Steeltex tires. The BFS spokesman said that, if anything, the voluntary campaign bolsters the company's argument that the tires are safe.
"This is proof that we're committed to safety," he said. "We'll identify and review the data on our tires, and if we find any irregularities, we'll replace the tires before they become a problem." He pointed out that the campaign involves just one of 103 Steeltex models made to more than 300 individual specifications. "The data show clearly that all the tires are performing well," he said.
"The lid´s off the box," said Joseph L. Lisoni, a Pasadena, Calif. plaintiffs´ attorney, about the Steeltex safety campaign. Lisoni leads the efforts to obtain certification for the Steeltex class action lawsuit.