POSTSCRIPT / May 30, 1999 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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THE exclusive distributor here of Bridgestone tires has given its side on consumer complaints aired through Postscript about the bursting of the sidewall of its tires and the sale of Bridgestone tires without the usual plastic wrapping wound around them.

President Teodoro Y. Tagle of Philippine Allied Enterprises Corp., local distributor of Bridgestone, said in a letter:

“All Bridgestone tires (with the exception of truck tires) used to come in wrappers. It was a few years ago that Bridgestone Corp. decided to gradually phase out the tire wrappers as a cost-cutting measure. Currently, most of the tires that are still wrapped are of the high-performance type of passenger tires to distinguish this type of tires from those of general application.

“Nonetheless the absence of the tire wrapper should not be taken as reflective of a product of inferior quality. There is simply no basis for such apprehension. As a matter of fact, there is a practical value in having our tires come without wrappers – the customer can more easily and closely inspect the tires before he buys them.

“Mention was also made of the concern that some of the Bridgestone tires being sold locally are of secondary quality having failed to pass quality control. We can confidently assure you and the public that all Bridgestone tires in the market are of first-rate standards, being exactly the same as those being sold in the Japanese domestic market.

“In fact, the tires we have here are fresh right out of the factories that produced them. In this regard, we should point out that it has been the standing policy of Bridgestone not to carry inventory. This means that Bridgestone only produces the exact quantity of tires that are covered by orders it receives. This is the reason why it normally takes Bridgestone a minimum of 90 days from receipt of orders to ship out the tires.

“And during the manufacturing process, all tires are rigidly inspected and those that fail to meet the quality test are destroyed. Under this system, there is no way for tires of doubtful quality to find their way in any market around the world.

“We understand that this concern about quality has been brought about by certain reports about alleged tire failures encountered by some Bridgestone users. Before addressing this issue, we wish to give a brief explanation about the construction of radial tires which are currently the most popular type of tire.

“What distinguishes a radial tire is the presence of several steel belts placed between the tread and the main body of the tire called the carcass. These steel belts, in turn, are made of reinforcing steel cords which bind the carcass, imparting stiffness to the tread.

“This tire construction was designed in answer to the growing demand for a long-mileage, firm-gripping tire which, at the same time, is also highly resistant to puncture. The idea is that with a toughened tread area, the tire can better withstand penetration by a sharp object.

“It has been found out , however, that a reinforced tread area can compromise riding comfort. This is the reason why the sidewall has been constructed in such a way that it can flex and absorb road shocks in order to provide a better and softer ride.

“The sidewall is the most flexible part of a radial tire and thus, it is also that portion which is subjected to severe stress during usage. Due to its comparatively softer sidewall in relation to bias tires, the radial tire can suffer cuts (sidewall cuts), especially when the tire is not properly inflated.

“It should be emphasized that rubber is a porous material which allows air to escape gradually (pretty much like what happens to a balloon). For this reason, we always insist that vehicle owners should make it a habit to inspect tire pressure twice a month, or before going on long trips. Also with regular tire inspection, the vehicle owner can immediately detect and remedy any problem that can lead to bigger ones later on.

“A great majority of the tire damage brought to our attention have been caused by cuts to the sidewall caused by sharp objects. In these instances, the tire user may or may not suffer immediate tire failure depending on the severity of the injury.

“Thus a cut may not at all be serious and the tire can continue to operate normally for weeks or sometimes months. But owing to the continued stress to the sidewall during usage, what started out as a minor cut can actually deepen and become the source of problems that lead to tire failure (e.g. busted sidewall, running flat).

“Every damaged tire as its own story to tell, and we at Philippine Allied Enterprise’s Corp. do our best to evaluate every tire brought to us in order to ascertain the real cause of the damage and to inform the owner accordingly. Hopefully being better advised, the vehicle owner will be able to better avoid encountering the similar problems in the future.”

* * *

WE told Bridgestone that we would forward to them all complaints we receive involving their tires. Mr. Tagle and his staff have told us of what remedial measures they had taken in the cases we had brought to their attention.

We learned more about tires in a meeting with Johnny T. Lee, who I took to be a Bridgestone expert. To illustrate his points, he brought cutaways showing the cross section of tires. Using them, he explained the design and its comparative advantages.

The discussions confirmed our fears that the sidewall of radial tires is not as tough as their tread (that thick broad base that is in contact with the road). But we know we cannot have a tire that is tough all around. That would be like rolling painfully on tires made of solid rubber.

In the intricate balancing by tire designers, the sidewall had to give up a little of its thickness and stiffness to improve riding comfort.

Our unsolicited advice: Most buyers of tires look for long life and safety. If the tires are made tougher and last longer, that would be more appreciated than having a cushiony ride but having your tires burst easily.

Bridgestone may want to consider making the sidewall a little tougher. Anyway, if the ride were rough (as it often is hereabouts) most Filipinos would blame it anyway on the car’s suspension and the bad roads – not the poor tires!

* * *

LISTED below are readers in the latest batch also asking for a copy of that touching story (Postscript, May 23, 1999) of a boy who lost his sister in an accident and was about to lose also his mother. Their email addresses were left out to protect their privacy:

Roland Alivio, Chit&Rech, Rose Fernandez, Jommel Manzano, express, sansu1106_98, ebb, hosmer matias, Marijo Mabanta, suzanne capulong, lucy.batiao, Jennifer M. Navarro, Marlene Belocura, Arsenio Del Rosario, Zarah Abigail, charleen arcilla, Nanette A Tanyag, Ron Warner, Jorge C. Mendoza, Raul Ramirez, ante dioni, Abel Marcos, Martha Legaspi, Mega Vision, Donato Jose, Dexter F. Parrilla, armando aya-ay, Pauline Tsang, Charlie D. Uy, aida andres, Melvin Mory, Rosebelle Martir, Maite, Emilie Rivera, Baby Barcelona, jigger ong, Telly Bernardo, Malyn, Francisco Santiago Santos, Edith Loyola, Edwin, rgdubouzet, amelia ang, Ria Novilla, Arlene, gina genterola, joy lontok, and Kris. (No, that’s not Kris Aquino, if we were to go by the data documenting her email.)

There were five readers who failed to get responses. Our mail to them (with the boy’s story attached) bounced back apparently because the addresses they gave were defective. That’s how it is in this tricky medium. One letter or dot missing or mistyped and the message is lost.

* * *

ANOTHER serious problem with this continuing exchange in the Internet is the unwitting (that word again!) propagation of viruses that are so deadly that they can wipe out the contents, everything, in your hard disk. Some even affect the motherboard.

One could receive or send viruses without even being aware of it. In our case where we send out at least 50 email responses to readers daily (which has sent our Internet bill soaring), the infection risks are high.

Reader Awic H. Deles of Davao City warns about such viruses spread by mass mailing. He writes: “If you’re using Outlook Express, go to Tools, Inbox Assistant, type in the Subject box the email virus, and check Do Not Download from Server, or better yet Delete Off Server.”

* * *

DELES sent an excerpt of a warning from Maria Celeste Ganac Rodil of the Software Development Division, Union Bank, saying:

“If you receive an email titled JOIN THE CREW or PENPALS, do not open it! It will erase everything on your hard drive! Send this letter out to as many people as you can. This is a new virus and not many people know about it. This information was received this morning by IBM. Please share it with anyone that might access the Internet.

“PENPAL appears to be a friendly letter asking you if you are interested in a penpal, but by the time you read this letter it is too late. The Trojan Horse virus will have already infected the boot sector of your hard drive, destroying all the data present. It is a self-replicating virus, and once the message is read it will automatically forward itself to anyone whose email address is in your box.

“So delete any message titled PENPAL or JOIN THE CREW. This virus can do major damage to worldwide networks! AOL (America On Line) has said this is a very dangerous virus and there is no remedy for it.”

Wow!

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 30, 1999)

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