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Letter to Iowa Licensed Car Dealers Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Recall

Memorandum

To: Iowa Licensed Car Dealers
From: Bill Brauch, Director, Consumer Protection Division, Attorney General's Office
Date: September 1, 2000
Re: Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Recall

I am writing to inform you of our concerns regarding vehicles in the marketplace with defective Bridgestone/Firestone tires. As you know, Bridgestone/Firestone recently announced a recall of certain tires, as described on the other side of this page. This is a very important safety matter, with numerous reports of deaths and serious injuries allegedly resulting from these tires. Your cooperation is needed.

We advise that it is your obligation under Iowa law to examine all vehicles in your inventory to determine whether they are equipped with any of the recalled tires, including spare tires. (The tires recalled so far are described on the other side of this page.) Because tire safety is so important, we advise that dealers should either (1) replace recalled tires with safe tires before offering a vehicle for sale, or (2) provide clear, written notice to each buyer that tires on a vehicle are subject to the recall. We recognize this may call for additional efforts by all. However, auto dealers are eligible for replacement and reimbursement for recalled tires, and it is proper for dealers to take these measures both in fairness to consumers and under the requirements of Iowa law.

A court may find that failure to replace recalled tires with non-defective tires before offering the vehicles for sale, or to provide a clear written notice to buyers, is an unfair sales practice and therefore a violation of the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act (Iowa Code section 714.16.) The Attorney General can take action under the Consumer Fraud Act to file lawsuits to recover consumer reimbursement and civil penalties and seek court orders to stop violations.

If you choose to issue a written notice rather than replace the tires, we strongly urge you to include: a complete description of the tires included in the recall, that the tires may pose a danger, the date of the buyer's purchase, a place for your dealership and the buyer to sign, a complete description of how the buyer may get the tires replaced and/or receive reimbursement, and the vehicle make, model, year and VIN number. There is no specific form to use. You may wish to consult a private attorney for legal advice regarding how best to disclose this information to your customers.

Thank you for taking these measures for safety and fairness. We also are taking other measures, including working with other Attorneys General to urge Firestone to implement fair and effective replacement and reimbursement procedures. Again, thank you for your attention to this vital safety issue. Should you have any questions, please call me at 515-281-8772, write to me at the address above, or send me e-mail.

How to Identify Tires Being Recalled

  • Bridgestone/Firestone has recalled certain tires, offered replacement tires, and offered reimbursement, including for recalled tires replaced with other brands. At this time (Aug. 25), tires recalled are all Firestone ATX and ATX II tires in the P235/75R15 size, and all Firestone Wilderness AT tires in the P235/75R15 size that were built at the Decatur, Illinois, tire plant.
  • Auto dealers and citizens are advised to monitor whether the recall is expanded, and to replace all recalled tires.

Here are sources of information about the tires and recall arrangements:

Bridgestone/Firestone - 800-465-1904.
Ford Motor Co. - 800-660-4719.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Using information from those sources, here is more detail on identifying recalled tires:

  1. Tires being recalled: all Firestone ATX and ATX II tires in the P235/75R15 size and all Firestone Wilderness AT tires in the P235/75R15 size that were built at the Decatur, Illinois, tire plant. (Note: the recall may be expanded without further notice to you by the Attorney General.) See below for details on how to identify the recalled tires.
  2. Vehicles with these tires: Firestone recall tires were installed as original equipment on the following: Ford Explorers1991-2000; Mercury Mountaineers 1996-2000; Ford Rangers 1991-2000; Ford F-Series pickups 1991-94; Ford Broncos 1991-94; Ford Explorer Sport Tracs 2001; Mazda B-Series 1994-2000; and Mazda Navajos 1991-94. (However, not all tires included on these vehicles are subject to the recall.) Recall tires also were sold in the aftermarket and may be on any light truck or SUV with P235/75R15 tires. Tires are being recalled regardless of the vehicle they are on.

Details on how to check if the tires are included in the recall:

  • The recall includes ALL ATX and ATX II tires of size P235/75R15 (but not other ATX sizes.) The tire size is located on both sides of the tire in raised black letters.
  • The recall includes certain Wilderness tires: Wilderness AT P235 tires made in Decatur, Ill. (Wilderness HT and LE tires, other size ATs, and tires made elsewhere are not recalled at this time.)
  • If you have a Wilderness AT P235/75R15 tire, here's how to determine if it was made in Decatur, Ill.: Find the "DOT code" on the back or blackwall side of the tire. Tires made in Decatur have numbers beginning with VD - for example: DOT VDHLA 16089. The code is ten characters following "DOT," and only tires starting with "VD" are made in Decatur and subject to recall.
  • Remember: you can always take your vehicle to a Bridgestone/Firestone store if you want them to determine whether your tire is included in the recall. Ford dealers also will check Ford vehicles, and most tire retailers will check your tires as well.
  • Dealers and citizens also should check with vehicle manufacturers or tire retailers to be sure replacement tires are acceptable for their vehicles.