NHTSA opens replacement tire investigation

Following a review of 11 different models and sizes of tires that were designated by Ford Motor Co. as replacements for its troubled Firestone Wilderness AT tires on Ford vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is has moved to open a defect replacement on only one of them, the General Ameri*550 AS tire of the P235/70R16 size, manufactured by Continental Tire North America.

Following a review of 11 different models and sizes of tires that were designated by Ford Motor Co. as replacements for its troubled Firestone Wilderness AT tires on Ford vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is has moved to open a defect replacement on only one of them, the General Ameri*550 AS tire of the P235/70R16 size, manufactured by Continental Tire North America.

The Ameri*550 tire is used as original equipment on Ford F-150 pickup trucks and was identified by Ford as a replacement for Firestone Wilderness AT tires on those pickups, NHTSA said. Approximately 2.7 million of these tires have been produced since 1995 and its tread separation claims rate for this tire is 124 parts per million, according to NHTSA.

While claims rates are not determinative in themselves, NHTSA says this rate far exceeds that of any other tire on the committee’s list. However, Continental disputes that claim against the tire, adding that consumer safety is its top priority.

“The Ford F150 is a pick-up truck used in off road conditions and difficult environments, such as construction sites,” Continental said. “The Ameri*550AS adjustment data must be viewed in the context of its application and the environment in which it is placed. It cannot be compared with data from other tires, such as passenger tires, and it is misleading to consumers to make generalizations about safety records based on comparing only one set of data.”

The review was requested June 19 by Rep. W.J. “Billy” Tauzin (R-LA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who claimed that his staff found several of the 11 tire models and sizes on Ford’s list of replacement tires had worse defect records than the Wilderness AT tire they were replacing.

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