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Firestone says no need for further tire recall

Jul 19, 2001 Firestone said Thursday it told U.S. traffic safety officials there was no need to recall more Wilderness AT tires, a move the goverment has sought.

The unit of Bridgestone Corp. has defended the safety of the tires since Ford Motor Co. announced in May that it was replacing 13 million Wilderness AT tires on its vehicles, asserting it had serious doubts about their safety. The move led Firestone to sever its nearly 100-year-old relationship with Ford.

In a statement, Firestone said further action by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration involving the tires was unnecessary, adding that it would use "every available step" to prove that its tires are safe, including pursuing the issue in court.

Last August, Firestone announced a voluntary recall of 6.5 million 15-inch ATX, ATX II and same-sized Wilderness AT tires made at the company's Decatur, Illinois, plant.

Those tires, linked to 203 deaths and at least 700 injuries in crashes mainly in the south and southwest United States, were largely fitted as standard equipment on Ford's Explorer sport utility vehicles. Firestone has contended the Explorer has safety flaws of its own. Ford has vehemently denied those charges.

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