More than 10 years ago, Firestone recalled tires, some involving the Ford Explorer. A news outlet has recently discovered that the recalled tires are being sold and installed.
In one case, a woman suffered permanent injuries following an October 2012 crash that involved one of the recalled Firestone tires, according to WSBTV/2. Firestone had long claimed it recovered most of the recalled tires. According to the crash survivor, the 1998 Ford Explorer “immediately started swaying and then it started flipping.
WSBTV/2 it reported that it gained special access to a forensic lock-up area in which technicians are examining the SUV. The vehicle was borrowed from a friend and the driver states that she had just dropped off her young son when she crashed in Interstate 85. The Firestone Wilderness AT that was installed on the rear driver’s side was shredded and the accident report indicated the vehicle rolled three times, describing the wreck as being significantly violent and that the female driver was ejected through the back window. She required airlifting to the hospital, WSBTV/2 reported.
“I remember asking, you know, ‘Am I going to make it? Somebody just tell me, am I going to make it?'” the woman, a professional model, told WSBTV/2. A fractured hip she suffered in the crash has left her with a permanent limp and she has a 4-inch scar on her head; she is unable to pick up her son. “What was wrong with that tire? I want to know details about everything. Something like that that can affect my life the way it has, I want to know every detail,” she said. The shredded tire had been recalled by Firestone 11 years before the crash and was part of the second recall involving these tires installed on Explorers and other vehicles.
Paul Oakley, Bridgestone Firestone vice president, in an email, claimed—for the first time, according to WSBTV/2—that Firestone and Ford collaborated to collect the 1.5 million tires involved in the 2001 recall, which totals about 83 percent of the product.
There appears to be a discrepancy in numbers, according to the report and one lawyer involved in the matter believes that the numbers Firestone indicated it is using are not reflected in the filings with the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). Oakley indicated that it would be inappropriate to file the numbers as most of the tires were recovered by Ford, according to Oakley. NHTSA documents indicate that Firestone attempted to recover 768,000 tires and recovered 90,000, which represents a 12 percent success rate; Firestone’s first recall in August 2000 recall involved 14.4 million tires. The firm alleged that less than half, or some 6.5 million, remained on the road, according to WSBTV/2.
“I think that number is bogus and the reason why is that these tires had incredibly long tread life,” auto safety advocate, Sean Kane, told WXBTV/2. Firestone also indicated that it recovered 97 percent of its on-road tires in just 10 months and its final report indicated that it claimed to have recovered more than 6.5 million tires, which is a recovery rate in excess of 100 percent. The NTSB’s top crash investigator, Donald Karol, said that the average recovery for a tire recall is, “To the best of my knowledge it’s 20 percent or lower,” Donald Karol said.