Tire Battle Essay

1928 words - 8 pages


Tire Manufacturer’s and the Legal and Moral Responsibilities Possessed

Matthew Damon

University of Kentucky

Vehicle tires undergo many different tests before they are approved for use. The manufacturers of these tires can have some legal responsibility, but is there a moral responsible. Two major tire manufacturers have had controversies involving the use of their tires. Firestone had their controversy with the Ford Motor Company, while Michelin had their controversy in the racing world. Each manufacturer had legal battles, but only Michelin realized the fault in the company tires and deemed them unsafe for use.

Automobiles ...view middle of the document...

The Ford Motor Company had its issues with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) starting in May of 2000. Michelin had its controversy with the Fédération Internacionale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body of Formula One, and the use of their tires in the United States Grand Prix. Both of these major tire manufacturers and the controversies surrounding them, have since been resolved and both have had both successes and failures when looked at from a professional ethics standpoint.
Since it happened chronologically first, the Ford Motor Company and Firestone Tires controversy will be looked at and analyzed first. This controversy stemmed from high tire failures resulting in numerous automobile accidents. The controversy came to the surface in the month of May of 2000. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, both Ford Motor Company and Firestone were contacted about the high rate of tire failure on numerous vehicles, specifically the Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer, and the Mazda Navajo[1]. With those specific vehicle models, one specific tire size and model was investigated, the 15 inch Firestone Wilderness AT, ATX and ATX II. Initially, through its own investigation, Ford found that these tires were the only tires to have high failure[2]. Even more specifically, Ford had found that a majority of the tires fitted on those vehicles came from the tire manufacturers Decatur, Illinois plant, a plant which eventually closed, with this being the leading cause of closure.
The phrase “tire failure” has been used quite a bit. What exactly is a tire failure and what can cause it? Essentially, it is exactly what it sounds like. The failure can be either a blowout, sidewall collapse, or in the case of Ford and Firestone, a tread separation. “Tread separations are primarily due to defective manufacturing processes. When a vehicle is moving at highway speeds and the treads on one of its tires separates from the rim, a loss of control is all too possible. In the particular case of tread separations in SUV’s, there is an increased risk, often resulting in the SUV rolling over, or flipping, with catastrophic results and damages.”[3] “The Bridgestone and Firestone tire recall in the early 2000s was an attempt to retrieve 15 million potentially defective tires from the market. Some six million of these tires have not been retrieved; they're still in use, on cars, trucks and SUVs that traverse our roads every day. Defective tires present real dangers to vehicle passengers.”[4]
By 2001, 174 people were killed in the accidents and crashes involving the Ford Explorer SUV’s which were equipped with Firestone tires. Ford alleged that it was the defective tires that led to the accidents and recalled 13 million tires for replacement.
Since the controversy had started, and, it was not until the NHSTA stepped in, there has been finger pointing placing blame on the other between the two...

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