Dealers respond to Firehawk recall
Although none of the dealers Modern Tire Dealer talked with last evening had heard about Firestone's most recent tire recall (see related Breaking News items), here's how they put that news into context when viewed against Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s earlier tire recall.
Dave Hayes, general manager of Stan's Tire & Auto Service in Lafayette, Colo., says news of Firestone's most recent recall isn't good. "Firestone can't take much more of this kind of thing, particularly if it would ever again involve the Firestone ATX and ATX II and Wilderness AT." Even so, he wouldn't hesitate to put those tires on his 1997 Ford Explorer. "I know there were deaths involved with that tire on that vehicle and that's a tragedy. But I think most media types were too dramatic and painted an overly grim picture without getting to the heart of the matter."
In Gallup, N.M., Andrew "Buck" Worker, president of A-J Tires, says he feels that "Firestone has been getting a bum rap all along, and I don't sell Firestone brand tires," he says. "Looking back to the earlier Firestone recall involving the Wilderness AT and ATX, I think Ford's recommended inflation pressure for those tires was ludicrous. But as long as the consumer press wants to bang away on this story so they can sell newspapers, any recall involving Firestone tires is going to get a lot of coverage, including this new recall, whether it's deserved or not." A-J Tires handles Michelin tires and some Kelly brand.
At Staley's Tire & Automotive in Billings, Mont., General Manager Steve Carmony said he is not now seeing, nor has he ever seen, any more problems with Firestone tires than any other brand. "I think the consumer press is pinning too much on Firestone, dating back to the Wilderness AT and ATX tire recall. I pulled ATX tires off 1992 and 1993 Ford Explorers with 60,000 to 80,000 miles on them and more. Most reporters did not fully consider vehicle overloading, underinflated tires, how the vehicles were being operated (at what speed) or how the vehicles and tires were being maintained. Instead it seemed as if they were pointing people to lawyers so they could sue Firestone. In my view, the press tells us what we want to hear to sell more network time, more newspapers, more radio time, etc. It will probably be more of the same with this newest recall." Staley's is supplied by Del-Nat, including some Firestone product.
At West Side Tire & Service in Yakima, Wash., co-owner May Jay was concerned with news of another Firestone recall. "I was very upset about the big recall earlier this year," she says. "When I read about it I thought we would all go to jail. Lawyers everywhere are looking for someone to sue and independent tire dealers all across the country are worried. We do everything we can do to educate our customers about proper tire inflation, but they still come in with little or no pressure in their tires. There is no free air at service stations anymore, nor anyone to help them inflate their tires. So what are we to do other than to keep telling them to come to us for proper tire service? We believe the consumer must take some responsibility for tire maintenance issues including tire inflation.
"Regarding yesterday's news of another Firestone recall, I don't think the negative publicity they are getting is a good thing for our industry. It will only serve to take tire sales out of the market." West Side Tire handles branded Toyo products only with private brand tires rounding out their retail menu.