Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. (Firestone Tires) submitted a request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a safety defect investigation regarding the handling and control characteristics of Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles following a tread separation of a rear tire. (This request includes Mercury Mountaineer and Mazda Navajo vehicles). Although Firestone's letter to the NHTSA was not in the form of a formal petition for defect investigation, the agency is evaluating the request as if it were a petition for a defect investigation. If you feel you have a case regarding a rollover due to defective Firestone Tires, fill out our case form for a free, no risk evaluation.
Specifically, Firestone alleges that "…certain of the Explorer models will experience an 'oversteer' condition in most circumstances following a tread separation of a left rear tire, an event that is clearly foreseeable" and "…Explorers as tested are defectively designed in that they have an inadequate margin of control (due to insufficient understeer) to permit control by average drivers in the foreseeable events of tread separation during normal highway driving in most load conditions and turning circumstances." The amount of "understeer" of a vehicle is characterized by its understeer gradient, and a brief description of understeer gradient appears later in the Firestone document. Firestone also contends that this "inadequate margin of control…can make the Explorer's handling imprecise and unpredictable in foreseeable circumstances, such as tread separation, where precise and predictable handling is essential to safe vehicle control."
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