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Continental Recalls Half A Million Tires From Ford SUVs

Aug 22, 2002 | AP Continental Tire North America announced Monday that it is recalling more than half a million tires installed on Ford Motor Co.'s sport utility vehicles after some of the tires lost their tread.

Tread separations led to the recall of millions of Firestone tires in the past two years that were used primarily on the Ford Explorer. Ford officials say they discovered the Continental problem through a rigorous internal process put in place after the Firestone recall to quickly identify possible tire defects.

The recalled Continental tires were installed as original equipment on 106,701 two-wheel drive Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs from the 2000 and 2001 model years. About 60,000 additional tires were sold as replacements on light trucks for a total of 596,610.

The recall involves the P275/60R17 size of the ContiTrac AW and General Grabber AW tires made at the company's plant in Mayfield, Kentucky.

Continental's action is the largest tire recall since Tokyo-based Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announced last October that it would replace 3.5 million Wilderness AT tires along with the 6.5 million it recalled in August 2000. Federal officials investigating the safety of the tires and Ford, which had voluntarily replaced 13 million Firestone tires on the Explorer, pushed for Firestone's broader recall.

Firestone tires have been linked to 271 U.S. traffic deaths and thousands of accidents. Bridgestone/Firestone officials said the design of the Explorer, the world's best selling SUV, was the reason the vehicles rolled over when a tire failed and also to blame for the deaths.

Even though the Continental recall involves Ford SUVs, Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said, "We have no indication this is related to SUV design."

Continental officials said property damage and personal injury claims against the tires increased significantly in April. Officials at Ford noticed the same reports, and the two companies discussed the problem that month.

Then in May, six people were killed in a rollover accident near Barstow, California, that involved a failed Grabber tire on a Ford Expedition. Mark Sowka, vice president of original equipment for Continental, said police have impounded the vehicle, and company officials have been unable to examine the tires to see if they caused the crash.

On July 12, Continental began an investigation into the tires that led to the recall, which the company estimates will cost dlrs 19 million. The company would not say how many tread separations had occurred but said most complaints involved uneven wear and vibrations. The tire maker told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration it has 18 property damage and personal injury claims related to the recalled tires.

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