By BridgeNews Ford Motor Co. expanded its tire recall to Europe on June 5 with plans to replace Firestone tires on about 23,000 vehicles across the continent. The world's second largest automaker had said earlier no European vehicles would be affected by a massive recall effort in the U.S. because of safety concerns with certain tires made by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., the U.S. unit of Japan's Bridgestone Corp. Last month the Dearborn, Mich.-based company recalled 13 million Firestone Wilderness AT tires on its vehicles because they fail more often than other tires. That came on top of an August 2000 recall of 6.5 million ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires. The tires are under investigation in at least 174 U.S. traffic deaths in accidents, mostly involving Ford Explorers. The European recall affects all 15-, 16- and 17-in. Wilderness AT tires used on Ford Explorers, Expedition sport utility vehicles, and Ranger and F-150 pickup trucks until 1999. After 1999 a different tire was used on those vehicles, the company said. The recalled vehicles will be outfitted with new tires, Ford spokesman Michael Droste said. Droste did not say why Ford waited until now to recall the European vehicles.