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Tempo's Tires Test Tempers

December 28, 1986

Two years ago my husband and I bought a Ford Tempo. It's a nice little car with air conditioning, comfortable seats, fingertip speed control, a map light; even a large trunk. And, like all other cars, it has the usual necessary parts. You know, all those things we take for granted will be there: engine, gas tank, tires, etc. It seems silly to mention them. I mean, everybody knows it wouldn't be a car without them, right?


The Ford Motor Company apparently no longer considers tires to be important. You see, no tire dealer has a size to fit our Tempo. The story goes: Each model has its own special tires, depending on the suspension, and the tires are a metric size made only by Michelin. There was a shortage due to unexpected high auto sales this past year. What they do have is being sent to the assembly line for new cars. I was told I could get one by special order only (prepaid, $86.99) and it would take at least two weeks for delivery.

Obviously someone goofed because we never had this problem before. In the past, whenever we needed a tire we've simply gone out and bought one. It was usually put on our car that same day.

Not so this time. When I went to a dealer the week before Thanksgiving to replace our worn right front tire I had no reason to expect a problem. But that's what I got and it almost prevented us from attending a family reunion in Sacramento over the holiday weekend.

Fortunately, I was able to get the phone number of the manufacturer of Michelin tires in South Carolina. The man I spoke to arranged for a tire to be air-freighted.

That solved our immediate problem. What about the next time? Our three remaining original tires have over 20,000 miles on them and will eventually need to be replaced. And, God forbid, what if one of them gets slashed or some accident ruins one? Who can wait two weeks each time a tire needs replacing? Perhaps longer, since 14 days is the minimum wait being quoted to customers.

A few dealers suggested we buy four new rims. That would also mean four new tires! Why should we have to do that? I wonder if Ford is willing to accept the responsibility for this goof up and absorb the cost of that solution. Surely the sale of a new car implies the availability of those parts that are absolutely essential.

A decent spare would have been a big help in this situation. Those emergency-use-only spares are next to worthless, as far as I'm concerned.



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