Key developments in the Firestone tire case:

May 2, 2000: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opens an investigation into Firestone tires that may experience tread separation. At that point, the agency had received 90 complaints, including reports of 33 crashes resulting in 27 injuries and four deaths.

Aug. 9, 2000: Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announces a recall of 6.5 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires, many sold as standard equipment on new Ford Explorers.

Aug. 31, 2000: NHTSA upgrades the investigation from a preliminary inquiry to an engineering analysis. At the time, the agency had collected reports of 88 deaths and more than 250 injuries in the case.

Sept. 1, 2000: NHTSA releases a list of approximately 1.4 million additional tires that it suggested should be replaced, but Bridgestone/Firestone refused to recall.

Sept. 6, 2000: Congress opens hearings on the case. Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. CEO Masatoshi Ono apologizes for fatal accidents that may be linked to his company's tires and Ford Motor Co. CEO Jacques Nasser insists his company could not be blamed.

Nov. 6, 2000: Bridgestone/Firestone says it is focusing on faulty product design and manufacturing problems at its Decatur, Ill., plant as possible causes for the tire failures.

Nov. 27, 2000: Bridgestone/Firestone says it is nearing completion of its massive tire recall with 5.3 million replaced and supply of replacement tires outstripping demand.

Dec. 6, 2000: NHTSA announces that 148 deaths and more than 525 injuries involving Firestone tires have been reported to the agency.

Dec. 14, 2000: Bridgestone Corp. president Yoichiro Kaizaki says fatal crashes involving vehicles fitted with Firestone tires caused by various factors, not just problems with the tires.

Dec. 19, 2000: Bridgestone/Firestone report blames questioned tread separations on a design flaw and the rubber-making process at an Illinois plant. It also faults lower inflation pressure and higher vehicle load limits recommended by Ford.

Jan. 2, 2001: Ford says it will offer tire warranties on all of its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models as a way to alert itself to problems with any tires. Ford says the warranties would begin with 2001 models.

Jan. 11, 2001: Bridgestone's Kaizaki says he would resign in March.

Feb. 6, 2001: NHTSA announces that 174 deaths and more than 700 injuries have been reported to the agency.

March 23, 2001: In its annual report, Ford says lawsuits over the Firestone tire recall and Explorer rollovers sought damages of at least $590 million as of the end of 2000. That figure only reflects damage amounts certain plaintiffs chose to include in their lawsuits, and does not take into account settlements Ford has reached in the recall's wake.

May 18, 2001: Ford says it has not decided whether to demand a broader recall of Firestone tires, despite a New York Times report it is leaning toward such a demand.

May 21, 2001: Bridgestone/Firestone ends a 95-year-long relationship with Ford, saying "the basic foundation of our relationship has been seriously eroded.''

May 22, 2001: Ford recalls remaining 13 million Wildnerness AT tires on its vehicles, saying it is concerned about the tires' safety. The recall will force Ford to take a charge of $2.1 billion.