May 30, 2002

NHTSA recall list includes some surprises

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) released a list of March recalls today, including some vehicles that have a reputation for being trouble-free.

Toyota is recalling 8,483 Corollas, model year 2003, to tighten the bolts that join the rear brake and hub assembly to the rear axle carrier – if the bolts come loose, the assembly could separate from the rear axle and lead to a loss of vehicle control. For the same reason, Pontiac is recalling 2,701 new Pontiac Vibes – the two cars are built in the same GM/Toyota NUMMI plant in California. Ironically, this is the same plant awarded a Bronze quality award today by J.D. Power and Associates. Toyota Corollas and Matrixes built in Cambridge, Ontario, are not affected by the recall.

Honda is recalling 2,900 Honda Accords and Acura TL’s, model year 2000, to replace a passenger airbag module that was not welded properly. The affected air bags may not deploy correctly in a crash, increasing the risk of injury to a front seat passenger.

Subaru is recalling 1,252 Outback models, model year 2002, replace the brake master cylinders which may not function properly in temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius. The brakes may not release after being applied, even when the driver’s foot is no longer on the brake pedal, possibly resulting in a crash.

BMW is recalling 799 325Xi’s, model year 2002, to replace both rear brake rotors which may crack and cease to function properly, increasing the risk of a crash.

The really big recalls for March belong to GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler. GM is recalling 1,589,948 compact and mid-size sedans: Pontiac Sunfire, Chevrolet Cavalier, model years 1995 to 1997; and Pontiac Grand Am, Oldsmobile Achieva, and Buick Skylark) model years 1996 to 1997. If the engine fails to start and the driver holds the key in the “Start” position for an extended period, high current flows through the ignition switch and sometimes produces enough heat to melt internal switch parts. If the switch is damaged, a fire could occur in the steering column, even with the engine off and the key removed.

Ford is recalling 417,037 Windstar minivans, model years 2000 to 2001, to inspect an electrical connector and install a body sealer to prevent a short circuit which might cause the taillights and reverse sensing system to fail. As well, Ford is recalling 51,846 F250, F350, F450, and F550 pickup trucks, model year 1999, to replace the front parking brake cable and controller.

DaimlerChrysler is recalling 545,311 Dodge Caravan, Plymouth Voyager, and Chrysler Town & Country minivans, model years 1997 to 1999, to inspect third row seatbelt assemblies which might malfunction should some trim material loosen and drop into it. DaimlerChrysler’s Jeep division is recalling 95,000 Wrangler (TJ) models, model years 2001 to 2002, to replace the ignition switch which might short circuit if water and impurities enter it.

For more detailed information on these recalls, visit the NHTSA’s web-site,

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