Ford To Pay $51.5 Million To Settle Case Involving Suv Tires

Attorney General Spitzer, along with the attorneys general of all of the states in the nation, today announced a settlement with the Ford Motor Company over allegations related to the deceptive sale and advertising of Ford Explorers.

Ford Motor Company settled the case with all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, by agreeing to pay $51.5 million which includes $30 million to fund a nationwide public service education campaign. Ford reports that it already has spent approximately $2 billion to replace tires nationwide.

"Although no one can erase the tragedies of the past, the terms of this settlement will bolster public awareness of safety concerns for SUVs and, hopefully, prevent future accidents," Spitzer said.

The agreement prohibits Ford from making misrepresentations about the cargo capacity, safety and handling characteristics of its Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), or the purpose of any recall or recommended inspection. In addition, Ford must have reliable scientific evidence to substantiate any representations about the safety, performance and durability of its SUVs.

Ford must also provide safety information about cargo loading and vehicle handling to each consumer who buys a Ford SUV and provide Spanish language owner's guides upon request.

In addition to funding the educational initiative, Ford will pay $300,000 in costs to each state.

The states had alleged that Ford continued to use tires, specifically, Firestone Radial ATX and Wilderness AT tires, even after the company knew the tires had an unacceptably high failure rate and that using the tires made Ford's SUVs more likely to roll over. The states had also alleged that Ford deceptively advertised aftermarket tires as original equipment.

Specifically, Ford's consumer education initiative will include the following:

  • SUV owner guide supplements and a SUV quick reference guide for the 2003 Ford and Lincoln-Mercury SUVs that will remind owners that SUVs handle differently from passenger cars;
  • The consideration of a SUV CD-ROM with educational information on vehicle features and safety awareness;
  • Point-of-sale checklists for dealers to direct attention of SUV buyers to the SUV owner guide supplement;
  • Sun visor labels that warn consumers that SUVs handle differently from passenger cars;
  • Labels on fuel filler door areas indicating the proper tire inflation pressure for the original equipment tires provided on the vehicle; and
  • Updated SUV owner guides that inform consumers of the difference between the vehicle manufacturer's recommended tire inflation pressure and the maximum tire inflation pressure marked on the sidewall of the tire.

This joint settlement comes a year after the states entered into a $51.5 million nationwide settlement with Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc., related to the advertising and sale of tires that had high rates of tread separations.

The settlement with Ford does not preclude an individual's right to assert claims against Ford.

Individuals with questions regarding the settlement are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Stephen Mindell and Herbert Israel of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.