Originally introduced by the Ford Motor Company in 1990, the Ford Explorer is the top-selling SUV in the world. Over 3.6 million Explorers have been sold worldwide. The Ford Motor Company markets several cars under the brand name Explorer: 2 door Explorer Sport, the 4 door Explorer and the 4 door Explorer Sport Trac, a new truck-SUV hybrid.
The Explorer brand has been heavily criticized since the summer of 2000 when reports surfaced of the lethal Ford-Firestone tire combination
. In August 2000, Ford and Firestone announced the joint recall of over 6.5 million Firestone tires made at Firestone's Decatur, Illinois plant. The tires recalled were Firestone ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT. Over 200 deaths
have been reported as a result of tire tread separation causing a loss of control and rollover
in Ford Explorers equipped with Firestone tires. In October 2001 Firestone announced the recall of an additional 3.5 million tires.
Firestone maintains that Ford is to blame for the high accident rate. According to the tire maker, Ford Explorers are inherently dangerous as their wheelbase is too narrow, increasing the vehicle's propensity to rollover. In addition, Ford intentionally lowered the tire pressure of Firestones installed on Explorers. Some experts theorize that the lowered tire pressure lead to premature tire deterioration and increased the risk of tread separation. When the Firestone tires failed, the unstable Explorer was much more prone to a loss of control than other automobiles. Simply put, as far as safety is concerned, the Ford Explorer's design
seems to leave little room for equipment failure (such as tire tread separation) or operator error (reckless driving, etc.).
In an unusual move, on May 22, 2001 Ford Motor Company issued its own "recall" of Firestone tires. Ford announced that it would replace all
Firestone Wilderness AT tires that were originally installed on Ford vehicles. Typically, either the manufacturer of a product or a regulatory agency issues recalls. Rarely has one manufacturer, such as Ford, issued a recall of another manufacturer's product, i.e., Firestone's tires.
During his congressional testimony on June 19, 2001, Ford CEO Jacques Nasser maintained that the Explorer "is and always has been a safe vehicle." Several members of Congress questioned that assertion, and one in particular, Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), suggested that the tires Ford was replacing the Firestones with are actually more prone to failure than the originals. Tauzin charged that Ford's use of Goodyear Rangler HTs and General Grabber ATXLs was particularly troubling as these tires have a higher than normal failure rate.
During the congressional hearing, Deputy Transportation Secretary Michael P. Jackson reported that NHTSA is considering opening an official investigation into the design and safety of the Ford Explorer.
Please see our section on Firestone
for more information about the tire maker.
If you have been seriously injured in a Ford Explorer or other automobile, it may be important to contact an attorney
who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits
within which you must commence suit.
- Vehicle Design / Crashworthiness
- Broken Bones: Overview
- Dislocation: Overview
- Head & Brain Injury
- Joints & Muscles: Overview
- Loss of Limb
- Mouth & Dental Disorders: Overview
- Scars: Overview
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Wounds: Overview