At 11:00 am on Wednesday, August 9, 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone (Firestone), the nations second largest tire manufacturer, and Ford announced jointly that Firestone would recall approximately 14.4 million tires that contain a safety-related defect. (Most of the tires in question were original equipment on Ford vehicles, primarily the Ford Explorer, although a small number were used as original equipment on other manufacturers' vehicles, and they have been used as replacement tires on a wide variety of models).1
The recall was a result of 118 United States deaths supposedly due to tire tread separation leading to accidents, as well as more than 40 deaths overseas. (The reported number of deaths allegedly due to faulty Firestone tires rose to 172 by February 2001) according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).2
The recall will cover all P235/75 R15 Firestone ATX and ATX II tires (from 1991 to the present) and all P235/75R15 Wilderness AT tires (from 1996 to the present) manufactured at Firestone's Decatur, IL plant.
Firestone does not plan to recall the approximately 5.6 million Wilderness AT tires manufactured at its other plants (Joliet, Canada and Wilson, NC) or other models of Wilderness tires. Firestone estimates that approximately 6.5 million of the tires covered by the recall (which include original equipment, replacement, and full-size, non-temporary spare tires) are still on the road. Then the two companies involved, Bridgestone/Firestone (B/F) and the Ford Motor Company, adopted a very different media responses.3
B/F announced the tire recall on August 9 as the crisis hit full pace. Consumers rushed to the tire dealerships for tire replacements. Unfortunately, the dealerships did not have sufficient stock to handle the massive demand, and many consumers were confused whether they needed to have their tires replaced. B/F reacted with a full-page advertisement in business newspapers on August 16...