- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Continental Tire North America announced yesterday that it is recalling more than half a million tires installed on Ford Motor Co.'s sport utility vehicles after some of the tires lost their tread.
Tread separations led to the recall of millions of Firestone tires in the past two years that were used primarily on the Ford Explorer. Ford officials say they discovered the Continental problem through a rigorous internal process put in place after the Firestone recall to quickly identify possible tire defects.
The recalled Continental tires were installed as original equipment on 106,701 two-wheel-drive Ford Expeditions and Lincoln Navigators from the 2000 and 2001 model years. About 60,000 additional tires were sold as replacements for light trucks.
The recall involves the P275/60R17 size of the ContiTrac AW and General Grabber AW tires. Those involved in the recall have Department of Transportation codes on the backs of the tires that end with date codes ranging from 109 to 4400, meaning they were manufactured between March 1999 and October 2000.
Continental officials said property-damage and personal-injury claims had increased significantly against the tires in April. Officials at Ford noticed the same reports and the two companies discussed the problem that month.
According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Continental learned of an accident in California involving a Grabber tire failure in May. There were deaths in the accident, but Continental said in its report to NHTSA that it has not fully investigated the accident to determine if a failing tire caused it. The company did not say how many died.
Continental began on July 12 the investigation into the tires that led to the recall. The company would not say how many tread separations had occurred, but most of the complaints involved uneven wear and vibrations. The tire maker said it has 18 property-damage and personal-injury claims related to the recalled tires.
Owners will get letters from Continental Tire advising where to obtain free replacement tires.
The company also announced it is recalling 3,505 tires used on commercial buses.
Also, Ford said it incorrectly labeled the tire pressure for the rear wheels on 81,774 two-wheel-drive Expeditions and Navigators from the 2000 model year, some of which are included in Continental's recall.
The rear tires have a recommended pressure of 33 pounds per square inch, but were erroneously labeled at 30 psi, Ford said. The front tire pressure is correctly labeled at 26 psi. Ford will mail new labels to owners.

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