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Ford officially ends Firestone recall on Easter Sunday

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Ford Motor Co. will officially end its 13 million tire recall March 31. Realistically, however, today is the last chance affected vehicle owners can replace their tires free of charge.

In May 2001, Ford announced it was recalling some 13 million 15-, 16- and 17-inch Firestone Wilderness AT tires not recalled by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. on Aug. 9, 2000.

The tires were original equipment on Ford's Explorer/Mercury Mountaineer, Expedition, Ranger and F-150. The Mazda B-Series and Navajo also were affected.

"This is a tire, not a vehicle, issue," said Ford at the time. Bridgestone/Firestone responded by saying the tires Ford was replacing were safe. "But, for the Ford Explorer, the question of safety remains."

Eleven months later, Ford's deadline of March 31 -- Easter Sunday -- signals the end of the recall (Ford posted the end of its recall on its Web site a day early). "While Ford is no longer paying for replacements, we still recommend you have the Firestone Wilderness AT tires removed from your Ford product," said Ford on its Web site.

The Akron Beacon Journal will publish a report on the effect the recall had on both Ford and Bridgestone/Firestone in its March 31 edition.

The tires were replaced at Ford dealerships or by authorized Michelin, Goodyear or Continental/General retailers, according to Ford. In a story published by The Miami Herald on March 29, Ford reportedly said it had replaced 82%, or 10.6 million, of the 13 million tires it recalled.

The man behind Ford's recall, former CEO Jacques Nasser, "retired" from Ford last October.

Bridgestone/Firestone ended its 6.5 million tire recall on Aug. 29, 2001, after replacing more than 6.3 million tires.

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