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Bridgestone/Firestone calls for government investigation of Explorers, cites own test results

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Bridgestone/Firestone (BFS) Inc. is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to investigate the safety of certain Ford Explorers.

BFS says the vehicles in question "oversteer" following tire tread separations during routine highway driving conditions, which may lead to loss of driver control.

"When tires fail, either from a tread separation or a road hazard or other causes, drivers should be able to pull over, not roll over," says BFS President and CEO John Lampe. "The Explorer does not appear to give the driver that margin of safety to make it to the side of the road."

The tiremaker bases its claims on tests performed by Dr. Dennis A. Guenther, a mechanical engineering professor at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Last month Guenther tested the following vehicles: the 1996 Explorer 4x2, the 2000 Explorer 4x2, the 1996 Chevrolet Blazer 4x2 and the 2001 Jeep Cherokee 4x2.

He also discovered that Explorers "have a significantly lower amount of understeer than other SUVs," according to BFS reports.

"It is critically important to look at the tire and the vehicle as an integrated system," Lampe said in a letter addressed to NHTSA Acting Administrator L. Robert Shelton that also was forwarded to Ford Motor Co. officials. "What affects one, affects the other."

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