Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. is launching another recall of Firestone tires mounted on Ford Motor Co. SUVs. As in the massive Firestone tire recalls of 2000 and 2001, these tires could suffer "rapid air loss" and cause crashes.
The tires were involved in two fatal crashes in 2002 and a third in 2003, a Firestone spokesman said. The company became aware of the crashes in 2003, he said.
The latest recall affects about 80,000 Excursion SUVs equipped with certain Firestone Steeltex Radial A/T tires. Ford dealers were notified of the recall on Thursday. The tires were installed on 2000 through 2003 model-year Excursions produced at Ford's Louisville assembly plant from March 24, 1999, through Feb. 13, 2003.
The tires are more prone to fail when the tire is underinflated and the vehicle is overloaded or driven at excessive speeds, Ford said in its bulletin to dealers.
Firestone will notify consumers by mail starting the week of March 8, according to the bulletin. Consumers may take their vehicles to Ford, Lincoln Mercury or Firestone dealers for tire inspection or replacement at no charge. All affected tires should be replaced regardless of mileage or remaining tread.
Ford said the number of replacement tires available will be limited at first. Dealers were instructed to put consumers in rental cars if replacement tires are unavailable and their existing tires are showing irregular wear, noise, or vibration.
Reuters contributed to this report.