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Tires by Michelin, Dunlop top survey

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WASHINGTON — Dunlop and Michelin tire brands rated highest in customer satisfaction in J.D. Power and Associates' annual tire survey, while the Firestone light truck tires dropped below average.

Firestone tires sold on new pickups, vans and sport utility vehicles scored just above average before 6.5 million were recalled last year. In the new survey, the Firestone brand ranked below average for both light trucks and passenger cars.

Dunlop rated first among tire brands used on light trucks, which includes vans, pickups and sport utility vehicles. Michelin ranked highest in passenger vehicle tires for the fourth consecutive year.

The study is based on the experience and opinions of more than 39,000 consumers who have owned the tires that came with their vehicles for three years or less.

Jeff Zupancic, director of tire practice for J.D. Power, said only a few survey respondents had been affected by the Firestone recall, but confidence in the brand may have eroded due to news coverage of the recall and about accidents blamed on tire failures.

At least 203 deaths and more than 700 injuries have been reported to the government agency investigating Firestone tires.

The tire customer satisfaction study identifies product quality as the largest factor. Other factors include performance, design and winter traction.

BFGoodrich, Michelin, Uniroyal, Goodyear, Bridgestone and Continental, respectively, follow Dunlop in the light-truck segment. Yokohama and General also finished at or below the industry average.