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NHTSA to Investigate Faulty Brand of Tire

Aired July 24, 2001 - 15:53   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Recently, we told you about Firestone replacement tires to be put on Ford Explorers. Now there's some news about those replacement tires. Patty Davis joins us from Washington.

PATTY DAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just announced that it is opening a defect investigation into one of the tires that Ford is using to replace some 13 million Firestone tires on its Ford Explorers and other vehicles. That tire, Continental General Ameri *550 AS. The tread separation rate on that model far higher, at least statistics, than the Firestone tires that it is replacing.

It is standard equipment on the Ford F-150 pickup truck and Ford identified it as the replacement tire for the Wilderness AT on those trucks. No comment from Ford today on that report.

Congressman Billy Tauzin in the House had asked NHTSA -- the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration -- to look into the safety of that replacement tire as well as other replacement tires. The agency says that this is the only tire that it found could possibly have a defect on the replacement front.

This is the latest development in the Ford/Firestone controversy. There have been 203 deaths linked to rollovers of Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires. And separately, last week NHTSA announced it had wrapped up its larger investigation into Firestone tires and said that since Firestone would not go ahead on its own and voluntarily recall some more of its tires, that it would go ahead and seek a mandatory recall -- Lou.

WATERS: Patty, this rate of tread separation; is that a laboratory test or is this a tread separation on Ford products? How is that determined?

DAVIS: There is no actual standard for these tread separation rates. They are determined by tests that are done on the revolutions of the tires themselves. And this particular one had a tread separation rate of 124 parts per million; that is far higher than the other Firestone tires that have found to be problematic. That's why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is saying it wants to look much more closely into this particular tire -- Lou.

WATERS: OK, Patty Davis from Washington. The latest on that story, and we will continue to follow along. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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