The Firestone tire recallimpacts only a few here

LIHU’E — Steve Takahashi, general manager of Pacific Service & Development

Corporation (PS&D), the island’s Firestone tire dealer, is concerned with

the public’s safety, and the media’s sensationalizing the unfortunate

circumstances and scaring the general public, regarding the voluntary safety

recall of certain Firestone tires.

While thousands of the size P235/75R15

tires in the ATX and ATX II and Wilderness AT models are being voluntarily

recalled worldwide, and some 88 deaths have been reported attributed to tire

failure in these models, the fact is that only three complaints have been filed

from Hawai’i regarding those tires, and no deaths have occurred here.

He

thinks there are many reasons for the failure of these certain Firestone tires

on the Mainland: Improper inflation, excessive speeds on Mainland highways

(where in places 75 miles per hour is the speed limit), high temperatures in

the Mainland states where the failures have occurred, and heavily loaded

vehicles associated with family vacations.

Many of the affected tires are

standard equipment on Ford trucks and sport utility vehicles, but Ford

recommends a 26 pounds per square inch (psi) inflation pressure Takahashi feels

is too low.

Firestone recommends 30 psi, he said.

Regarding the

improper inflation theory, Takahashi said that many drivers are using

self-serve or gas-and-go service stations for their gas needs, so regular

checks of tire pressure don’t normally take place any more.

While the

recall has slowed Firestone tire sales a bit and caused PS&D’s tire

department the inconvenience of handling nearly 200 calls from concerned

Firestone owners, Takahashi said he has no intention of abandoning the

Firestone tire line.

“The tires are good tires,” he said. “But tires are

not indestructable. They need maintenance,” he noted. “The atire pressure

should be checked regularly, and visual inspections of the tires should be done

to check for improper wear due to misalignment, and for scrapes and cuts due to

hitting potholes and curbs.

“Just as a car engine needs to be checked for

oil levels, radiators need to be checked for water, cooling system hoses need

checked and brake systems sometimes need brake fluid, tires also need to be

checked and maintained periodically,” he advised.

“Unfortunately, tires are

usually taken for granted, and maintenance is neglected.” Takahashi urges

Kaua’i drivers to inspect their tires regularly, for safety’s

sake.

PS&D stands ready to replace tires affected by the recall. Where

the Wilderness AT model is concerned, only that model’s tires from the

Decauter, Ill., manufacturing plant are subject to the recall.

The recalled

tires are all designed for trucks and sport utility vehicles, and are designed

for on- and off-road uses. “People with sedans shouldn’t be concerned,” because

the recalled tires won’t fit on sedans unless the sedans have been modified, he

said.

Takahashi takes safety concerns seriously, so when a concerned

customer comes in, the PS&D staff looks at the tires, checks for correct

pressure, and if the tires are ones impacted by the recall, they’ll check U.S.

Department of Transportation serial numbers on the tires.

If the tires are

subject to the recall, the customer will be put on a list and be called when

replacement tires are in. Or customers can go to another dealer and have

replacement tires mounted on their vehicles.

Recalled tires must be turned

in to PS&D, with customers required to fill out forms to get reimbursement

for replacement expenses directly from Firestone, Takahashi

explained.

PS&D has been cutting holes in and scraping DOT numbers off

of recalled tires before shipping them to Firestone on the Mainland. Of the

nearly 200 calls PS&D has received regarding Firestone tires, probably half

of them may have the recalled models, he said.

To confirm, people have to

come in to PS&D. Firestone hopes to have the nationwide recall program

completed by the early part of next year, Takahashi said.

Around 20 people

who did not want to wait for Firestone replacement tires have had Goodyear

tires put on their vehicles at Tire Warehouse, reports owner Sharron

Weber.

Tire Warehouse has the Firestone recall forms, which along with the

recalled tires must be processed at PS&D, she said.

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