Continental Tire North America Inc. (CTNA) has initiated a voluntary safety recall of 595,000 of its Continental P275/60R17 ContiTrac AW and General Grabber AW P275/60R17 sport-utility tires.
In a separate action, the company also is recalling more than 3,000 Continental brand bus tires.
The SUV tires involved have DOT codes from 109 to 4400. They were produced between March 1999 and October 2000 on 106,701 2000-model year and certain 2001-model year two-wheel-drive Ford Expedition and two-wheel-drive Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles.
Approximately 60,000 of the tires are in the replacement market. Consumers will receive free replacements.
CTNA, through its early warning system, saw "an increase in consumer complaints of uneven wear and vibration that caught our attention," says a CTNA spokesperson. "Looking at all the data, we realized the tires were not performing to our expectations" and decided to recall them.
"Ford Motor Co. has been fully informed of this action, and Continental has been working in close cooperation with Ford to ensure an efficient implementation," says Mark Sowka, Continental Tire's vice-president of original equipment.
"We closely monitor the performance of our products. When we recently became aware that these tires were not performing up to our standards, after two years in service, we were quickly able to identify the period of production in question.
"The voluntary recall we are announcing today shows how Ford and Continental early warning/quality systems work together and why we are at the forefront of testing, data analysis and responsiveness," says Sowka. "Continental is focused on automotive safety, and we want to be certain that only the highest quality products are on the road."
In its own statement, Ford says it is working closely with Continental to get Ford customers replacement tires as soon as possible. And on its Web site, Ford commended Continental for its quick decision to voluntarily recall the tires.
Ford also says it will notify customers of two-wheel-drive 2000-model Expedition and Navigator SUVs of incorrect vehicle certification labels. An esimated 81,774 vehicles are involved.
Some of the vehicles are affected by the Continental Tire voluntary recall, according to Ford.
The rear tires have a recommended pressure of 33 psi, but were erroneously labeled at 30 psi. The front tire pressure is correctly stated.
Customers will receive a corrected label in the mail that should be placed over the existing label.
Both Continental and Ford are urging consumers to be mindful of tire maintenance at all times, particularly when they rotate tires.
Continental announced these additional steps to assist and inform consumers:
* Toll-free hotline and e-mail. Consumers can get questions answered and receive information about how to identify the affected tires and where to get free replacements by calling (800) TIRE-FIX (847-3349) from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Consumers also can e-mail the company at email@example.com.
* Notification letter. All consumers will receive a letter from Continental Tire directing them to the appropriate dealer for replacement, and providing them with all necessary information.
* Special Web site. A link from http://www.contigentire.com will provide information about the process of identifying and replacing the affected tires, and answers to frequently asked questions.
* Additional communications. The company says it will work closely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in this effort and "will take whatever additional steps necessary to keep the public informed."
Separately, Continental also is also initiating a voluntary recall of 3,505 Continental 315/80R 22.5 154/150MHSR1 tires, produced from September 2001 to June 2002. These tires are used in a specific commercial application on certain buses.
Continental says it will notify affected customers and will provide free replacements. For further information, customers can call the Commercial Tire Group Warranty Center at (800) 726-7113.