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Failed tires OK'd for Explorers

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Failed tires OK'd for Explorers

Ford's test results of replacement tires show they're just as likely to roll over

Margaret Cronin Fisk / Bloomberg News

Ford Motor Co. approved replacement tires for its Explorer sport-utility vehicle that made it just as likely to roll over as the originals Ford blamed for more than 200 deaths.

Ford's test results of replacement tires, introduced as evidence last month in an Explorer trial in Mississippi, may support hundreds of pending lawsuits claiming the vehicle is unstable and could flip over during evasive driving. Ford has lost six Explorer rollover cases totaling $151 million in jury verdicts in the past 12 months. In a 2000 government investigation into Explorer rollovers, the company blamed the original Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. tires for the accidents.

"It wasn't just the tires," said Sean Kane, co-founder of Safety Research and Strategies in Rehoboth, Mass. "This shows just how on edge the Ford Explorer is."

In computer simulations used to test substitutes, the Explorer tipped up on two wheels, a Ford indicator of rollover risk, on tires made by Goodyear, Uniroyal, Continental and other manufacturers, the records show. The company approved some failed tires as replacements, according to Ford documents.

Ford spokeswoman Karen Shaughnessy said in an e-mail that "Ford performed extensive testing and analysis before approving any replacement tires. No single factor determined whether a specific tire was approved as a replacement tire."

Link: http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artic.../603030315/1148

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