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Illegal Tire Problems Plague the U.K.; Was Jac’s Last Act a Bug?

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It is often said that we Americans and our British cousins are more alike than we sometimes want to admit.

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So it is a bit worrisome to read reports in the London Telegraph that more than 2.2 million (that’s MILLION!!!) U.K. cars failed mandatory MoT (Ministry of Transportation) checks due to unsafe or illegal tires.

Sadly, that information came to light only after industry safety group TyreSafe filed a Freedom of Information request demanding the data. That kind of data should see the light of day much quicker, don’t you think?

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, “reacted incredulously to the news,” said the Telegraph. “It beggars belief that so many motorists can fail their MoT because of unsafe or illegal tires. Your safety on the road is totally dependent upon the condition of your tires so it’s vital that you check these regularly throughout the year, let alone just before you take your MoT.”

“Unsafe and illegal” tires include, among many things, those worn to less than 2/32nds (1.6mm), those exhibiting damage, and “part worn” (used) tires that have not been stamped as such.

Jackson should be incredulous. A recent study by ICM Research for tire chain Kwik Fit found that 22% of British drivers admit to have bought part-worn tires for their cars; and 9% – close to three million drivers – have done so in the past year.

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If there is a bright side, only 17% claim they would consider buying used tires in the future.

Of the majority that said they were anti-used tires, 48% worried about hidden damage in the tires, 47% said new tires performed far better, 44% said “part-worns are a false economy” and they get better value from new tires, 36% were concerned as to where part-worns were coming from, and 35% were concerned about how the used tires were, well, used.

And get this: 19% said they did NOT trust any “garage” that sold used tires.

* * * * * * *

There is no doubt that Jac Nasser, former CEO of Ford Motor Co., was a rare gift for working journalists. At the height of the Ford-Firestone Fiasco of the early aughts, Nasser was a giant finger-pointing quote machine, perfect for those 6 and 11 newscasts and the lead item each evening on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN.

Jason Vines, the less public Ford mouthpiece as its PR chief during the turmoil, recently wrote a book: “What Did Jesus Drive? Crisis PR in Cars, Computers and Christianity,” in which he claims Nasser had his office and phone bugged in the months preceding his ouster.

He learned of this bugging from a Ford security officer after he was fired by Ford in October 2001, the same day Nasser got the ax (and a reported $17 million handshake for his trouble).

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Apparently he wasn’t the only target. According to a story in the Detroit News, “Vines recounted a meeting in the office of the company’s then-general counsel John Rintamaki that he complained about a boss. Rintamaki turned up the radio in his office and began playing some loud classical music, similar to a scene in the movie ‘All the President’s Men’ and whispered to Vines ‘they’re listening.’”

And as if that wasn’t enough, “Vines also says he asked Ford security to track down leaks to the press. The book suggests Ford executive chairman Bill Ford Jr. was behind leaks to a New York Times reporter during the crisis that eventually led to Nasser’s ouster.”

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