Washington, DC--A Ford polymer scientist's deposition in a Texas court case partially contradicts Ford's recent decision to advise its vehicle buyers to replace their tyres after six years of use regardless of their condition, according to spokespersons for the tyre industry.
John Baldwin, Ford polymer science technical specialist who leads the auto maker's research in tyre aging, told lawyers Dec. 17, 2004, that it's obvious the properties of the rubber in the Firestone tyres recalled in August 2000 changed dramatically over time. But when asked if older tyres are less resistant to belt separations than new tyres, Baldwin said, "I'm not comfortable making that assessment yet, to be honest with you."
"Based on these statements, we would submit that Ford doesn't have data showing a direct correlation between tyre age and tyre performance," said a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, which has staunchly fought all suggestions that tyres may have an "expiration date."
A committee of the American Society for Testing and Materials is developing test protocols for tyre aging, collaborating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in its effort to develop tyre aging test requirements for federal tyre safety standards. Some industry officials, however, are skeptical. "There are so many variables involved that we honestly don't know whether they'll ever come up with an accurate test," said Becky MacDicken, government affairs director for the Tire Industry Association
Website of Tire Industry Association