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A Publication of Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service
Vol.6 No.4.........Fall 2000

Firestone Recall Update.   
Hot Days, Dark Cars, Equals False Alarms.  
Mysterious Maximas.  
Shortage Of Technicians.  
Recent NHTSA Recalls.  

Our E-mail Address: 

Our Phone Number Is 508-999-3213 

    Firestone Recall Update. 
We have been flooded with phone calls regarding the Firestone Tire Recall. Here is the latest information we have to date from Firestone. 

The suspect tires are all Firestone Radial ATX and Radial ATX II tires in size P235/75R15 produced in North America, including Mexico, and Wilderness AT tires in size P235/75R15 produced at the Decatur, Ill., plant only. 

If you have the P235/75R15 Wilderness AT and want to determine if the tires were built at the Decatur plant you can have a Firestone dealer inspect them or you can look for the "DOT" (Department of Transportation) number under the car at the back of each tire's sidewall. Typically you will see capital letters DOT then the tire's 10 digit serial number will immediately follow. If the first two letters of the serial number are VD then the tire was made at the Decatur plant and is involved in the recall. 

Vehicle owners will be notified of the recall by mail. Bridgestone/Firestone will replace all of these tires with brand new Wilderness AT or other Bridgestone/Firestone tires. If necessary, the company will obtain other sources of supply. Customers who wish to speak to a representative of Firestone can do so by calling the customer service number at 1-800-465-1904, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. 

Here at Giammalvo's we can also replace the recalled tires. If you have the recalled tires, we can replace them for you with any, (same size), tire of your choice and all you will have to do is return the tires to a Firestone dealer and send in a reimbursement form to Firestone.  Customers are eligible for reimbursement up to $100 per tire, including mounting and balancing charges and taxes. 

Reimbursement checks will be mailed to customers. Firestone is required by law to secure all recalled tires. 

The following current model vehicles equipped with Firestone Wilderness tires are not involved in this recall: 

Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. 
Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban sport utility vehicles. 
Ford Expedition sport utility vehicles. 
Ford Escape sport utility vehicles. 
GMC Yukon and Yukon XL sport utility vehicles. Mazda Tribute sport utility vehicles. 
Nissan Frontier pickup trucks. 
Pontiac Aztek sport recreational vehicles. 
Subaru Outback sport utility wagons. 
Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks. 
Toyota 4 Runner sport utility vehicles. 

The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, (NHTSA), also issued an advisory to consumers who have vehicles with specific other Firestone Tires. In that advisory, NHTSA claims that after their investigation into the recall that certain other Firestone tires have shown to have an increased failure rate. 

Firestone claims that their research shows that these other tires are not problematic. Here is the NHTSA press release: 

The National Highway Traansportation and Safety Administration is recommending that owners of vehicles with certain models and sizes of Firestone tires not already being recalled by Firestone take a number of actions to assure their safety, based on NHTSA's analysis of Firestone's data. 

On May 2, 2000, NHTSA opened a defect investigation into approximately 47 million ATX, ATXII, and Wilderness tires manufactured by Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc.  (Firestone). On August 9, Firestone announced that it was recalling 14.4 million of the tires under investigation. These include all Firestone ATX and ATXII tires of the P235/75R15 size manufactured since 1991 and all Wilderness AT tires of that same size manufactured at Firestone's Decatur, IL plant. Firestone has estimated that about 6.5 million of these tires were still in service as of that date.  

NHTSA has continued its investigation into the remaining tires. As part of that investigation, NHTSA has reviewed data provided by Firestone on property damage claims, personal injury claims, and lawsuits regarding the tires under investigation. Although its investigation is not complete, that review indicated that the rate of tread separations for certain other tire models and sizes exceed those of the recalled tires, sometimes by a large margin. Therefore, NHTSA is concerned about the possible safety risk associated with those tires.  

    On August 30, 2000, NHTSA staff met with Firestone representatives in Washington and recommended that Firestone expand the recall to include these tire models. On August 31, Firestone advised NHTSA that it would not voluntarily expand the recall at this time. We are continuing our investigation, which may result in an order directing Firestone to recall these tires and any other defective tires. However, in view of the potential safety risk, NHTSA believes that it is important to alert the public of its concerns now.  

The tire models with the high tread separation rates are set out in an Attachment to this advisory. A total of approximately 1.4 million of these tires were produced. However, since many of them were manufactured many years ago, it is likely that far fewer are currently on the road. Most of them were sold as replacement equipment and were not installed as original tires on new cars.  

Since Firestone has chosen not to expand the recall at this time, you may not be able to obtain free replacement tires from Firestone. However, in light of these concerns, NHTSA recommends that you consider replacing the tires in question and that you 
retain all documentation.  

If you have one of these tires on your vehicle, you should take the following steps:  

Check your tires to be sure there are no visible signs of a problem. 

Be sure your tires are properly inflated. 

Do not drive at a high rate of speed, particularly in hot weather. If possible, choose roads with relatively low speed limits.  

Make sure your vehicle is not overloaded. 

Wear your seatbelt. 

    Please be aware that while these precautions are good general guidelines to tire safety, they may not prevent a tire failure. 

    NHTSA will be moving to rapidly complete its defect investigation into these particular tires as well as the remaining Firestone tires under investigation. If the 
agency concludes that other tires should be recalled, it will act promptly to assure that the public is protected. 

On September 12, 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone Tire Sales, (BFS), Company President John Lampe announced that for customers who may be concerned about tires in the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Consumer Advisory, BFS is providing free inspections at company-owned stores and authorized retailers. Furthermore, the company is prepared to replace any of the tires covered by the Advisory dated Sept. 1, "if a customer is still concerned...if necessary, we will use competitor's products." If a customer chooses to visit a competitor's location to obtain replacement tires under this program, BFS will reimburse customers up to $140 per tire.  "Obviously, if there is a problem, we'll fix it," Lampe said. 

The Tires Identified In NHTSA's Sept. 1 Consumer  Advisory are: 

Tire Line      Size                           Plant Code 
     ATX       P205/75R15                      VD 
     ATX       P225/75R15                       HY 
     ATX       30X9.50R15LT                  VD 
     ATX       31X10.50R15LT                VD 
     ATX       32X11.50R15LT                VD 
     ATX       31X10.50R16.5LT             VD 
     ATX       33X12.50R16.5LT              VD 
     Firehawk ATX    27X8.50R14LT      VD 
     Firehawk ATX    235/75R15*            VD 
     Firehawk ATX    30X9.50R15LT       VD 
     Firehawk ATX    31X10.50R15LT      VD 
     Firehawk ATX    32X11.50R15LT      VD 
     Firehawk ATX    33X12.50R15LT       VD 
     Firehawk ATX    265/75R16LT            VD 
     Firehawk ATX    255/85R16LT             VD 
     Firehawk ATX    31X10.50R16.5LT      VD 
     Firehawk ATX    33X12.50R16.5LT      VD 
     ATX 23 Degree  31X10.50R15LT           VD 
     ATX 23 Degree  33X12.50R16.5LT        VD 
     Widetrack Radial Baja P225/75R15         HY 
     Widetrack Radial Baja A/S 32X11.50R15LT  VD 
     Wilderness AT P235/70R16                       W2 
     Wilderness AT  33X12.50R16.5LT             VD 
     Wilderness HT  P255/70R15                        VD 

*Firestone lists this tire as LTP235/75R15 

 Hot Days, Dark Cars, Equals False Alarms.

During this past summer we had several customers with factory installed alarms complain that their alarm went off, yet no one tampered with the vehicle. We noticed some peculiar similarities to many of the cases. The vehicles were usually dark in color and the false alarm event occurred on a hot day when the vehicle was parked in the sun. Remembering an old Dodge service bulletin years back, we paid particular attention to the hood pin tamper switch. Most vehicles with factory installed alarms have a hood pin switch that senses if the hood is opened and sets off the alarm. On a hot day, when the vehicle is parked in the sun, the hood can actually "swell" and lift approximately 1/4 inch. If the hood pin is adjusted "too low" it will trip when the hood swells up thus setting off the alarm. The darker the color of the car the hotter the hood can get, (from absorbed sun light heat), the higher the hood can travel up. In most cases we either adjust the hood pin higher, adjust the closed hood position lower or replace the hood pin switch. 

Just when you think little details don't matter...they matter a lot. When you bring your vehicle in for service don't feel strange or embarrassed by telling us all the details. You may think they sound foolish or that they are not relevant, but tell us anyway. The more information we have the quicker we can solve your concern. 

Mysterious Maximas.

Recently we have had owners of Nissan Maximas mention that the trunk lid on their vehicle can open without warning while they are driving or getting in or out of the vehicle. We recently witnessed this occur on our lot. We had a shipment of cars arrive by car carrier and while the driver was backing a Maxima off the carrier the trunk popped open. In most of the cases we have found that the driver was fairly tall and had something bulky in their left pocket.  Now you are wondering...what could a person's height and pocket have to do with a car problem? Well, here is what our research uncovered: Many Nissan Maximas have a power trunk release switch located on the inside of the left front door below the door armrest. Normally, the placement of this switch is not a problem. However, if the driver is tall, the drivers seat will be adjusted back in a position that lines up the switch right across from the drivers left pocket. If the tall driver has a wallet or set of keys in that pocket it will stick out just enough to push in the trunk release switch. Most often it happens as soon as the driver sits down and closes the door. Nissan now sells a new style switch, that we can install, that requires a longer push to activate the trunk release. 

Shortage Of Technicians.
The National Automotive Dealers Association, (NADA), is reporting a shortage of qualified automotive service technicians. In 1999, there were 258,000 technicians working in franchised dealerships. That figure is actually 10,800 more than 1998. In 1980, there were 1.53 dealership technicians for every 1000 light duty vehicles. In 1999 there were only 1.24 technicians per 1000 light duty vehicles. 

Recent NHTSA Recalls.
The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration, (NHTSA), reports the following recalls: 

1998-99 Ford Explorer, erratic windshield wiper operation. 
1998-99 Mercury Mountaineer, erratic windshield wiper operation. 
1995-97 Subaru Legacy, electrical system failure. 
1997-99 Buick Park Avenue, front shoulder belt jamming and binding. 
1997-2000 Chevrolet Corvette, jammed and binding safety belt retractor. 
1994-96 Dodge Ram, ignition switch failure and fire. 
1995 Mazda Protégé, headlight wire failure in steering column. 

It appears that NHTSA is close to forcing a recall on the following vehicles: 

1989-91 Buick Regal, Chevrolet Lumina, Chevrolet Lumina APV, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Oldsmobile Cutlass, Oldsmobile Silhouette, Pontiac Grand Prix and Pontiac Trans Sport. 

The problem goes back to a recall on these vehicles in 1997. At that time, the recall was to replace rear engine cradle bolts that would corrode on these vehicles if they were registered in the "salt belt states" : (CT, IL, IN, MA, ME, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, AND WI). Now it appears that the front cradle bolts may have corroded as well. Out of 200 new complaints to NHTSA, 22 of them are in states that were not in the first recall. Nine of the 22 new complaints are in Minnesota. 

Remember that in many recalls not every car in an effected year range is assembled with the faulty component. Often only a certain batch of vehicles are affected. NHTSA lists the year span just for reference purposes. If a 1998 Malibu were listed it does not necessarily mean that all 1998 Malibu's are effected. The manufacturer will mail you a letter regarding a recall only if your specific vehicle is involved. 

If you wish you can call the NHTSA hot line at 1-888-327-4236 or 1-800-424-9393. 


We appreciate your business.
Please drive carefully.
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Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales, Inc.
1476 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Phone: (508) 999-3213
FAX: (508) 999-1343
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