Tire recall keeping dealers busy

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 25, 2001

Dave Syverson and the service staff at Syverson Ford in Albert Lea have dealt with large-scale recalls in the past.

Friday, May 25, 2001

Dave Syverson and the service staff at Syverson Ford in Albert Lea have dealt with large-scale recalls in the past. But the recent recall of Ford Explorers to replace Firestone Wilderness AT tires will keep the dealership busy for months.

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&uot;It’s a big one – something like 13 million tires,&uot; Syverson said. &uot;As a dealership owner, I know we get reimbursed for the work, but it does add a big work load. We’re making appointments as fast as we can.&uot;

Syverson said difficulty getting tires is slowing the recall process. A load of 800 tires arrived at the dealership yesterday, but that only covers about 160 Explorers because the recall involves replacing all tires, including spares.

But this recall doesn’t carry the same urgency as last summer’s, Syverson said. He thinks Ford is simply taking a precautionary measure.

&uot;From what we get from Ford, they’ve given this whole situation with Firestone due diligence. I have to give them credit for that,&uot; he said.

Ford Motors announced Tuesday that it was issuing a recall to replace all Firestone Wilderness AT tires on the popular Explorer model. The company cited road performance test data to back their decision. Last summer, a similar recall was issued for older Explorers and other vehicles with Wilderness AT tires after tests showed cases of premature tread separations.

Despite all the media attention throughout the last year, Syverson said the tire controversy hasn’t affected the popularity of the Explorer.

&uot;It’s selling as well now as it ever has,&uot; Syverson said. &uot;I think this is a tire issue, and people realize that.&uot;

Vicki Long has two Explorers in her driveway. One is an older model, and she had its tires replaced during last summer’s recall. Her newer Explorer is a 2001 models. &uot;When I heard about the recall this week, I just thought ‘here we go again,’&uot; she said. Then, she checked the vehicle and realized the dealer had switched from Firestones to Goodyear tires because of the safety problems with Firestone.

Long said in some ways a tire recall isn’t so inconvenient because customers can get a free set of new tires.

&uot;I almost felt guilty about getting the new tires on my old Explorer last year,&uot; she said. &uot;It was like getting an early Christmas present.&uot;

Syverson said most customers seem to have an easygoing attitude about the recalls, especially the latest one. Many consider it a more of a dispute between two companies than a serious safety issue, he said.

&uot;I think Ford wanted to wipe their hands of this whole mess with the tires. I know safety is a big reason, but I also think public image played a part,&uot; Syverson said. For more information about the Explorer tire recall, call Ford’s inquiry line at 1-866-300-1226 or e-mail the company at tireinquiry@ford.com. or visit www.ford.com.