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Ford continues to deny Explorer problems, blame Firestone tires

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Ford Explorers do not roll over more often than other SUVs after tire tread separations, Ford Motor Co. officials said in a press conference this morning.

Ford also says Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) Inc.'s recent claims that Ford Explorers exhibit significant steering problems "were perhaps made prematurely."

In addition, the auto manufacturer denies any connection between tire temperature ratings and tread separations. "None of the work we've done has indicated a correlation," says Richard Parry-Jones, Ford vice president of global product development and quality.

Ford shared some of its test results during the press conference that claim Firestone Wilderness AT tread separations are "substantially higher" than tires made by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and other manufacturers. "Firestone tires from different plants showed varying levels of performance," Parry-Jones says, with units made at BFS' Decatur, Ill., factory generally being the most vulnerable.

The Detroit, Mich.-based company says it is in the process of changing "performance and testing protocols to cover tire 'robustness testing.'

"We're collectively working on revising industry standards for tire performance," Parry-Jones says.

Ford has 1.25 million replacement tires in stock right now. "We expect to complete the replacement program by the end of the year."

When asked if Ford will seek money from BFS to help pay for the recall, Jones replied "it will be discussed."

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