by Dr. John Luton
Looking for SUV Tires? Read this first!
Sport Utility Vehicles rule the road! There’s certainly no question about that – whether you like them or not, it seems that SUVs are here to stay.
If you’re the owner of one of these option-loaded gas-guzzlers, you know that good SUV tires can make a world of difference when it comes to handling the vehicle on and off the road. In fact, the topic of SUV tires commanded center stage just a few years ago, beginning in 1994.
SUV Tires vs. the SVU – The battle between Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford
Anyone who has been driving for the last 10 years or so is probably familiar with the intense public relations war that took place between Bridgestone/ Firestone Tires and Ford Motor Co. At issue: Which company should accept responsibility for the loss of life as a result of overturned Ford Explorers? From 1994 until congress conducted hearings in 2000, nearly 300 deaths had been attributed to Ford SUV rollovers. And these SUVs were all wearing Firestone tires.
Defective SUV Tires -- or Unstable Vehicles?
Opposing forces soon jumped into overdrive as both companies pointed accusing fingers at each other. Ford said that defective Firestone tires lost their treads in many situations and were responsible for the deaths. Firestone, just as adamantly maintained that it was the Ford Explorer’s high center of gravity that caused the vehicles to be unstable, prompting the roll-overs. Firestone said that SUVs in Venezuela were overturning as well – and they had been fitted with Good Year tires.
A lot of SUV tires – and a lot of money!
After many months of intense PR battles and congressional hearings, Bridgestone/Firestone decided to recall 6.5 million tires. Ford decided to strip its SUVs of all Bridgestone/Firestone tires. These moves cost each company around $1.3 billion, thus severing a previously rock-solid relationship that had endured for more than 95 years. Public opinion is still divided as to which company should have accepted the bulk of the blame.
Firestone and Ford: An update on the SUV tires dilemma
Before retiring in 2004, John Lampe, CEO of Bridgestone Americas Inc., indicated that his company had a strong desire to normalize relations with Ford. The Ford Motor Co. remains a strong Bridgestone customer in markets other than SUV tires. Mark Emkes, Lampe’s successor has also announced his plan to continue to sell Bridgestone/Firestone tires to other auto makers such as BMG and Toyota.
An Expensive Lesson About SUV Tires
Both of these large corporations and dozens of grieving families have learned the hard lesson that there is no way to overemphasize the importance of buying the right SUV tires for your vehicle. While SUVs and tires can be replaced, the most precious cargo that rides in an SUV -- or any other vehicle on or off the road -- is our family members and friends whose lives cannot be replaced.
So, if you drive an SUV, do your homework. Don’t rely exclusively on product information brochures that sometimes fail to disclose the full truth about the reliability of the equipment they’re selling. Do some good old-fashioned critical thinking and ask all the pertinent questions before making such an important decision about your family’s safety. Choosing the right SUV tires for your vehicle is not just an important decision – it’s vital. Do your best to protect the lives of those you love.
About the Author: Dr. John W. Luton
Before joining the mass communication faculty at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, Dr. Luton served as pastor of churches in Maryland and North Carolina for almost 20 years. He and his wife, Cheryl, remain active in their church and Dr. Luton serves as an Unreached People Group Coordinator for mission work among the Bisu people of Thailand.
Growing up in northeastern North Carolina,
John Luton marveled as his father told stories about his
childhood and World War II adventures. Bluebird
in Belgium relates those wonderful stories.