More than 100 Rim country residents are on a waiting list at Phil White Ford to have recalled Firestone tires replaced on their vehicles.
"We've been swamped," owner Phil White said, "but so is every other Ford dealer in the country."
And with an average of 10 Ford owners a day driving in to have their tires inspected at the dealership, there is no end in sight.
Bridgestone/Firestone and Ford Motor Co. announced last week the recall of 6.5-million Firestone Wilderness AT, Radial ATX and ATX II tires that are suspected to be responsible for accidents that have killed 46 people and injured 80 more. The tread can rip and shred on the tires, which are found mostly on Ford vehicles, primarily Ford Explorers built since 1991.
Accidents involving tire failure of this type are especially dangerous because drivers have little control over their vehicles when the tread unravels, especially on SUVs, which tend to roll over more easily than regular cars.
"The bad tires were made in a specific Firestone plant in Decatur, Ill, so when we inspect we look for the plant code on the tires," White said.
"We have over 400 tires on order, and we'll put on another brand if we can to help our customers. We've been putting on Michelins, Generals and U.S. Royals whatever we can get that meets the specifications for the vehicle."
According to Phil White parts manager Pat McCann, the recall picture is changing day by day.
"We're getting almost hourly updates from Firestone, and we're getting new tires in as fast as we can," McCann said. "A lot of the time the tires seem to fail at high speeds when they're underinflated, so one of the things we can do for our customers who are waiting for replacements is to check the inflation pressure when they come in for an inspection."
Ford owners who are considering driving to the Valley to have their tires replaced sooner might want to call ahead before risking the trip. According to McCann a few Ford owners from the Valley have stopped at Phil White because of the long waiting list down there. "One guy said he was 180th on a waiting list in the Valley," McCann said.
Rim country residents with potentially defective tires are being told the wait could be between two and five weeks, Phil White Parts and Service Director Frank Allen said.
"But we definitely want people to get their cars in here for an inspection," he said. "That way we can get them on the waiting list if their tires need replacement."
In the meantime, the best advice for those with recalled tires is to avoid high speed driving and keep tires properly inflated.
Bridgestone/Firestone has doubled its production of the recalled tire to 250,000 a week, but the company estimates it will still take a year to complete the recall.