Originally created 08/17/00

Maker will replace bald tires



Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. said authorized dealers will replace all recalled tires - even those so bald that they should not be on the road - at no charge.

The company clarified its position during its daily press briefing Wednesday after flip-flopping on the issue. It had announced a voluntary recall of 6.5 million truck and sport utility vehicle tires last week.

Initially, the company said it would replace all recalled tires regardless of how many miles they had traveled, but it later sent a memo to tire dealers indicating that tires with two-thirty-seconds of an inch or less of tread would not be included in the recall.

By National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards, tires with less than two-thirty-seconds of an inch of tread should not be on the road, Bridgestone/Firestone officials said.

In addition, the company said it is stepping up production of replacement tires, so much so that it expects to complete the recall by spring of next year instead of the summer.

The company estimates 200,000 tires already have been recalled.

It plans to produce 350,000 more tires by next month.

Tires named in the recall are 15-inch ATX, ATX II or Wilderness AT tires made in Decatur, Ill. Wilderness tires produced at the Aiken factory are not included in the recall.

Reach Frank Witsil at 823-3352.