The Ford Firestone Safety Nightmare That Ended A Nearly 100 Year Partnership


In total, 6.5 million Firestone tires were recalled. To err on the side of caution, Ford later recalled an additional 13 million tires at its own expense which were not part of the original recall. Firestone was said to be changing its manufacturing processes at the Decatur plant, where most of the faulty tires were produced, to match its other plants. Instead, the factory was shuttered altogether in the early 2000s, resulting in layoffs for approximately 1,800 employees.

As for Ford’s role, the automaker alerted all Explorer owners that the front tires should now be inflated to a pressure of 30 psi, up from the original 26 psi, and checked frequently, especially before long trips. Updated stickers were also mailed to owners to replace the original tire inflation specification stickers in the SUV’s doorjambs. For the 2002 redesign, the Explorer featured a completely reconfigured independent front suspension.

In 2001, Firestone CEO John Lampe presented a letter ending his company’s 95-year-old business ties to Ford, built on a long-ago friendship. The whole ordeal prompted Congress to pass an overhaul of U.S. tire safety regulations, including the implementation of tire pressure monitoring systems and warning lights that we have today.

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