Every day that goes by without the government ordering a recall of Firestone 500 steel belted radial tires saves the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. $250,000, according to consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

In a letter to National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Joan Claybrook, who used to work for him, Nader also claim that "the longer NHTSA takes to order a formal recall of these millions of tires, the fewer will be the number of tires remaining on the automobiles for recall."

Nader claims that "every week 125,000 of these tires are scrapped," because they "have either worn out or blown out."

He said the number of 500's on the road has dropped from 15 million to 12 million since the start of the NHTSA investigation last February.

Firestone stopped making the 500's earlier this year, and any NHTSA recall is only allowed to include tires sold within the three years prior to the date of the recall.

Nader and other consumer advocates have stated in the past their belief that Firestone has been negotiating a possible scaled-down recall with NHTSA in an effort to delay whatever recall is finally decided upon.

Nader attacked Claybrook for allowing Firestone to delay a final recall order from the agency. NHTSA officials have said privately that a final recall may be ordered within a few weeks, but, through mounds of documentation supplied by the tire maker only after it was ordered to do so by a federal judge.

"The recall of these tires is an urgent matter and should not be postponed until Firestone's long overdue material is read through by NHTSA employes," Nader wrote. "Otherwise, NHTSA is transforming Firestone obstruction into Firestone windfall."

Nader said he estimated that the replacement cost for each tire would be $10 - considerably less than industry estimates - and making his financial estimates "extremely conservative."