For over a decade, Ford and Firestone covered up the deadly tire/SUV combination of Firestone Wilderness AT tires, which experienced tread separations at an inexcusably high rate, and Ford Explorers, which are disproportionately prone to rollover.
In August 2000 and in April 2001 Public Citizen and Safetyforum.com called for the recall of Firestone Wilderness AT tires. On August 9, 2000 Ford and Firestone announced the their first recall of 6.5 million Wilderness AT tires made in Decatur, Illinois.
But Explorer occupants were still at risk. Additional tires not included in the first recall were deemed by the government to be defective on October 4, 2001, and were eventually recalled. Difficulties with tire blowout-induced rollovers continue in Ford Explorers, even on models not equipped with Firestone tires. NHTSA should continue its investigation of safety defects that may afflict Explorers.
Statement of Vickie Hendricks