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Sep 14, 2000

Defective tires replaced by Firestone dealer

Story Picture
It has led the U.S. newscasts for several weeks: The story of how millions of defective Firestone tires were loosed on an unsuspecting public, causing perhaps hundreds of highway deaths and injuries. All the publicity prompted News Five’s Jose Sanchez to see if any of those deadly tires made their way down to Belize.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The reason why there is a concern here is because the defective tires were used as standard equipment on Ford Explorers, F150′s and Rangers, all of which are popular vehicles in Belize. Belize Estate Company is the agent for Ford motor vehicles and their manager is sure that they have not imported any vehicles with the P235/75 tires that have been recalled.

Bill Bowman, General Manager, Belize Estate Company Ltd.

“Our vehicles come with LT tires which is a light truck tire. It is very unlikely that we would find a P series tire here. We use the LT tire mainly because of the type of roads that we have in Belize. The LT tire is more durable on our roads and it ensures a longer life of that tire, and of course the safety of the passengers IN the vehicles. I can clearly state that on our lot we do not have any of the recall tires. We have inspected quite a lot of vehicles with suspected tires and I have yet to identify a vehicle with recall tires here in Belize.”

While there may not be any vehicles with recall tires at Belize Estate that is not the situation at Caribbean Tire. They have been inspecting a number of vehicles that carry the faulty Firestones.

Karl Reimer, Caribbean Tire (Inspecting vehicle)

“This is a ATX… yeah that is one of the recall ones. This is a Wilderness, and I have to see the serial number which is on the inside, so we’ll take it off and check the inside.”

“This morning we had one Ford Explorer coming in asking us to check his tires. I went out to check his tires and I found out the four tires were of the recall ones, the spare was not. So we just invite him in and we just give him four new tires.”

Dons Waithe purchased his Ford Explorer two years ago in Houston. The Firestone brand tires came with the vehicle, and at the time he was not aware of the problem.

Dons Waithe, Concerned Driver

“I gave my vehicle to the mechanic this morning to have him check my tire for me and make sure they were okay. He took them over to Caribbean Tire on the Northern Highway, and when they checked it they found out these were the defective tires. The owner, who’s the Firestone agent, decided he would replace the tires for me free of charge. My tires are now safe and I feel more confident using my vehicle, especially for the safety of me and my kids.”

For owners to identify whether or not their tires are affected by the recall they should look at the sides. Any Firestone tire bearing the name ATX with size P235/75 R15 is definitely a recall tire. The second recall tire is the Wilderness AT size P235/75 R15 that was produced at the Decatur, Illinois plant. Wilderness AT tires from Decatur can be identified by a code of VDHL, which is located on the inner wall of the tire. All other Wilderness tires are not affected.

Bill Bowman

“We’d advise that any customers out there or any person driving a vehicle whether it be a Ford or some other make or model, if they’re driving a vehicle with a P235 Firestone tire, it would be advisable to drop in at our dealership or at the Firestone dealer so that the tires can be inspected.”

Karl Reimer

“If anyone has any doubt we invite them to come in from anywhere in the country. We check them out for them free of cost and if it’s any of the recall we just invite them in and give them a new tire without any cost.”

Reporting For News Five, I am Jose Sanchez.

In addition to the United States, other countries reporting serious trouble with the tires are Venezuela and Colombia.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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