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Firestone Tires under Investigation AgainAired September 29, 2000 - 6:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has confirmed that officials in the United States are investigating another brand of Firestone tires for tread separation problems.
Here now CNN's Kelli Arena from our financial news channel with more details -- Kelly.
KELLY ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, this looks to be an even bigger problem than we saw before with Firestone. This time, the tires involved are Steeltex tires, 15, 16, and 16 1/2 inch tires. They have been blamed so far for two deaths, 12 injuries, 8 crashes, 169 complaints.
They have been included as original equipment on some more Ford trucks. Ford, of course, again involved here. F-250 and F-350 pick- up trucks, the Ford Excursion, a very popular SUV model. Also on some GM original equipment: GM Suburbans and GM G-vans. The investigation is preliminary. Firestone just sent us a statement. And basically they say this not a finding of a defect, but just a search for information. Bridgestone/Firestone says that it is cooperating fully with U.S. safety regulators.
We have not heard yet from Ford and GM. We are trying to get comment from them. The problem, once again, tread separation. The tread separating from the tire, as we found out in our past experience with the Firestone recall. Sometimes on SUVs that does cause a roll- over which causes a much more serious accident.
In this case, at least two deaths that we know of so far. The NHTSA investigation -- the safety investigation here in the United States is in a preliminary stage. They are not issuing a consumer warning at this time. But we may get a warning as the investigation continues, and if they really find that this is evolving into a much more serious problem.
But for those people that are driving those vehicles with those tires Steeltex 15, 16 and 16 1/2 inch tires, you should bring your tires to a service center and have those tires checked immediately -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: Kelly, just quickly. What would it take for the National Highway Transportation Safety people to say, be careful, take these tires in. I mean, we are now making the statement in a voluntary way. What would it take for them to raise it to the next level?
ARENA: Well, Judy, they got 167 of those 169 complaints only since August. So this is very early investigation. They basically have to get much more information to determine that there is a serious threat on the road. Once they do that, they may issue a consumer warning which they did do previously with other Firestone tires that have not been recalled yet. Safety regulators, as you know, can also issue a recall of their own and say even without the company, say hey, we want these tires off the road.
So either way, this is very bad news for Firestone customers, for Ford customers, again Ford was hit here.
WOODRUFF: For anyone driving...
WOODRUFF: ... with these type tires until they know better. Kelli Arena, thank you very much.
ARENA: You're welcome.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
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