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Please post this Bridgestone tire failure report & photos on your web site. This is a copy of what was sent to NHTSA and the Bridgestone/Firestone Consumer Affairs section.

To whom it may concern:

Since Bridgestone doesn't seem to have a dedicated consumer affairs address of it's own, I am sending this to you (Bridgestone/Firestone) for resolution. I currently have removed 4 Bridgestone SF-475 tires from my Mercedes, 3 of them suffer from apparent factory defects. One pair has DOT code Y7P9 and the other pair has DOT code EJP9 - they are all P195/75SR14 tires.

One of the Y7P9 tires suffered a complete tread separation and the tread looks similar to a peeled banana skin. What concerns me is the remarkable similarity to the descriptions and pictures of recalled Firestone tires on various consumer related web sites. The other concern is that in addition to the above failure, 2 of the remaining 3 tires, upon closer inspection, are showing signs of impending tread separation.

Both of these tires have the DOT EJP9 code. I have attached pictures for your review. Please be advised that contrary to request(s) I will not surrender the tires to my Bridgestone/Firestone dealer unless and until this matter can be resolved successfully.

The tread separation occurred on a smooth, straight section of I-95 in Maryland at an approximate speed of 65 MPH. The weather was cool and the incident happened at approximately 8:00 P.M. so the road surface was also relatively cool. The tires were inflated to 30/32 PSI (front/back per Mercedes-Benz specifications). After driving approximately 20 miles the ride became slightly "unusual", as if a tire balance weight had come loose or a wheel had slipped slightly out of alignment. If the road surface hadn't been new, smooth asphalt, I would have attributed it to a slightly worn patch of concrete road surface. There was no noise or other warning of impending failure except for that slightly uncharacteristic "road feel".

Within approximately 2-3 minutes the tread began to disintegrate and separate from the body of the left rear tire, spraying following vehicles with tire debris. It took 20 - 25 tire revolutions for the tread to completely peel off nearly causing an accident for several following vehicles who by then were engaged in "panic lane changes" trying to avoid the tire fallout. Needless to say, the noise in the passenger compartment was unbelievable. At first I thought that the entire rear section of the vehicle had broken loose and I was dragging it down the interstate with me - at least until the tread completely separated. Although no one was physically hurt, the whipping action of the steel strands in the tread for those 20 - 25 revolutions caused moderate body damage to the left rear wheel well and the left rear quarter panel of the vehicle. Since these types of Mercedes are low, heavy and very stable, I was able to pull over to the shoulder without further incident. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had been operating a smaller or lighter vehicle with a higher center of gravity, I would not be here to write this complaint.

The first attached picture shows the defective tire in the lower left.

The tires in the upper left and upper right quadrant have chalk marks where the tread is beginning to separate from the sidewall. The areas circled have small but deep fissures running into the steel belts. In picture #2 I have inserted the leather awl on my pocket knife into one these fissures. As you can see, the fissure is deep enough to support the considerable weight of a full-sized Boy Scout pocket knife. These defects would not be noticeable unless the tire was inspected very closely with a focus for this specific flaw. The independent mechanics who replaced the tires have indicated that there is no question that the flaws described above are factory defects. My very real concern is that they appear in 3 of the set of 4 Bridgestone tires.

I have no desire to engage legal representation to resolve this complaint as an initial remedy and wanted to give you the opportunity to resolve it in a more amiable fashion first. I am also concerned about your B420 P195/70R14 90S series tires as I currently have a set of 4 on one of my historic Mercedes-Benz sedans. I am therefore requesting any data which relates to the safety and reported defects on this series of Bridgestone tires as well. This automobile would be substantially more expensive to repair if a similar situation should occur. I trust that you will not delay in your response to this issue.

Sincerely,

Wayne R. Baltimore, MD




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