DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. has told almost 3,000 dealers not to wait for Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.'s rolling recall of 6.5 million tires, which the company is stretching out over one year.
The automaker has authorized its dealers to replace tires immediately with models from Firestone competitors, including Goodyear, General, Michelin and Uniroyal, said Ford spokesman Mike Vaughn on Saturday.
Bridgestone/Firestone released a statement Saturday welcoming Ford's move, saying it complemented the Firestone plan.
Goodyear has already announced it is increasing production to help meet demand created by the recall.
"The main thing is to get the recalled tires replaced as quickly as possible," Vaughn said.
With an estimated 1 million Ford light trucks carrying recalled tires in the United States, Firestone could end up paying for Ford dealers with tires under warranty to outfit Explorers and light trucks with tires from Firestone's competitors.
With 2,900 Ford dealers authorized to sell and service tires, the move also would leave Bridgestone/Firestone's recall plan in question.
The tire company on Wednesday announced a three-tier recall to manage demand for replacements, angering worried customers and state officials not at the top of the list. South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon threatened to sue if his and other Southern states weren't included in the recall immediately.
Firestone's recall began in Texas, California, Arizona and Florida. In the fall, replacements are to be offered in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The third phase covers the rest of the country and is expected to be completed by the end of 2001.
The tires involved in the recall are P235/75R15 Firestone radial ATX and radial ATX II tires and Wilderness AT tires carrying the code "VD," most of which are on Ford vehicles.
The government is investigating the tires in more than 300 accidents.