January 24, 2003


Vehicle recalls announced

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released a list of auto safety recalls announced in November 2002. This list identifies the make and model of the vehicle involved, with a brief description of the safety problem. Not all vehicles of a particular make and model may be subject to the recall.

Recalls are listed in alphabetical order by manufacturer:

DaimlerChrysler Corporation

Models: Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan Years: 1996-1998

Plymouth Voyager/Grand Voyager Years: 1996-1998

Chrysler Town and Country Years: 1996-1998

Number Potentially Involved: 1,500,521

Dates of Manufacture: January 1995 – February 1998

Defect: On certain minivans, the clockspring assembly may have been wound incorrectly during the vehicle assembly process. This condition will cause illumination of the air bag warning lamp, and could eventually cause the driver’s air bag to become inoperative.

Remedy: Dealers will replace the clockspring assembly on all vehicles with 70,000 miles or less. An extended lifetime warranty will also be given for this component for all affected vehicles, regardless of mileage. DaimlerChrysler will also reimburse owners who have paid to have the clockspring replaced on their vehicles. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification began Nov. 18, 2002.

Ford Motor Company

Models: Ford Focus Years: 2000-2001

Number Potentially Involved: 219,854

Dates of Manufacture: July 1999 – May 2001

Defect: On certain passenger vehicles equipped with Zetec engines, loose or broken attachments and misrouted battery cables could lead to cable insulation damage. This, in turn, could cause the battery cables to short, resulting in heat damage to the cables. Besides heat damage, the “check engine” light may illuminate, the vehicle may fail to start, and smoke, melting, or fire could also occur.

Remedy: Dealers will inspect the battery cables for the condition of the cable insulation and proper tightening of the terminal ends. As necessary, cables will be rerouted, retaining clips installed, and damaged battery cables replaced. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification was to begin Jan. 20, 2003.

Ford Motor Company

Models: Ford Focus Years: 2000-2001

Number Potentially Involved: 446,569

Dates of Manufacture: March 1999 – May 2001

Defect: On certain passenger vehicles, loose pinch bolts that secure the lower control arm to the steering knuckle have been reported. Loose pinch bolts could exhibit noise, vibration and, if left uncorrected, separation of the joint or fracture of the ball joint stud, increasing the risk of a crash.

Remedy: Dealers will inspect the steering knuckle pinch bolt for tightness and correct as necessary. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification will begin Jan. 20, 2003.

General Motors Corporation

Models: Chevrolet Cavalier Years: 1996-1998

Chevrolet Venture Years: 1997-1998

Chevrolet Lumina Year: 1996

Pontiac Sunfire Years: 1996-1998

Pontiac Transport Years: 1996-1998

Pontiac Grand Prix Years: 1997-1998

Oldsmobile Silhouette Years: 1996-1998

Number Potentially Involved: 1,159,156

Dates of Manufacture: January 1996 – October 1997

Defect: Certain passenger vehicles and minivans have lower pinion bearings in the power steering rack and pinion assembly in which the retainer tabs were not crimped properly. These and some other retainers could fail and permit the ball bearings to escape. If this occurs, the pinion shaft can be forced upward during left turns and back down as the steering wheel is moved back and to the right. If the pinion shaft moves further, the driver will need to exert more effort to turn the steering wheel, similar to a vehicle without power assisted steering. If the pinion shaft moves even further, the driver will require much higher effort to turn left and may not be able to turn the wheel as much as intended. With the maximum pinion shaft movement, which requires internal gear component damage, the driver can encounter high resistance to turning left, followed by unintended power assist to the right. In any of these conditions, a crash could occur.

Remedy: Dealers will install a new lower pinion bearing unless inspect of the existing bearing indicates that replacement of the gear assembly is necessary. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification began Jan. 17, 2003.

General Motors Corporation

Models: Chevrolet Express Year: 2003

GMC Savana Year: 2003

Number Potentially Involved: 18,409

Dates of Manufacture: April – October 2002

Defect: Some of these vans were built without a wheel bearing assembly retaining nut, which could lead to a possible bearing separation. If this were to occur, the ABS system would be disabled. The driver would also notice a grinding noise, a decrease in the vehicle speed, and the steering will pull in the direction of the affected brake assembly. This could result in a loss of vehicle control, increasing the risk of a crash.

Remedy: Dealers will inspect the wheel bearing assembly. If the inspection reveals a missing retaining nut, the wheel bearing assembly will be replaced. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification began Nov. 13, 2002.

General Motors Corporation

Models: Saturn L Series Years: 1994-1995

Number Potentially Involved: 72,135

Dates of Manufacture: July 1993 – March 1995

Defect: On certain passenger vehicles, some front seat back recliner gear teeth may wear excessively through repeated use, which could cause the seat back to slip partially rearward when force is applied. If this happens while the vehicle is being driven, it could cause a loss of control, increasing the risk of a crash.

Remedy: Dealers will replace the vehicle’s front seat recliner mechanisms. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification is expected to begin during January 2003.

Hyundai Motor America

Models: Hyundai Tiburon Year: 2003

Number Potentially Involved: 7,382

Dates of Manufacture: August 2001 – March 2002

Defect: On certain passenger vehicles, the driver seat belt buckle wiring could be damaged by interference with the driver seat cushion height adjuster mechanism. Damaged wiring could cause the seat belt warning lamp or the air bag wiring lamp to illuminate. It could also cause the air bag to open, preventing air bag deployment. Nondeployment of an air bag could increase the risk or severity of injury in a crash.

Remedy: Dealers will install a new driver seat belt buckle, if necessary, and will place a protective cover over the driver seat belt buckle wiring to prevent damage from occurring. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification is expected to begin during January 2003.

Nissan North America, Inc.

Models: Nissan Xterra Year: 2002

Nissan Frontier Year: 2002

Number Potentially Involved: 5,000

Dates of Manufacture: July 2001 – January 2002

Defect: On certain pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles equipped with a supercharger, under certain conditions, such as full throttle in low gear when the engine is not fully warmed up and at cold ambient temperature, the amount of intake airflow through the air flow meter may exceed the maximum preset diagnosis limit value. This will cause the engine control system to go into the failsafe mode. Under this condition, the malfunction indicator lamp will illuminate and engine speed will not exceed 2400 rpm regardless of the throttle position, increasing the risk of a crash.

Remedy: Dealers will reprogram the electronic control module. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification began Jan. 13, 2003.

Nissan North America, Inc.
Models: Nissan Xterra Years: 2001-2003

Nissan Frontier Years: 2001-2003

Number Potentially Involved: 143,000

Dates of Manufacture: July 2000 – September 2002

Defect: On certain 4-wheel drive pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, water may enter the rear axle housing due to inadequate sealing of the anti-lock braking system (ABS) sensor. This can result in corrosion and eventual failure of the wheel bearing. If this occurs, the wheel assembly could separate from the vehicle, increasing the risk of a crash.

Remedy: Dealers will inspect the rear axle for water intrusion, and all affected components will be replaced. The ABS sensor will be resealed to prevent water intrusion. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification began Jan. 13, 2003.

Nissan North America, Inc.

Models: Nissan Xterra Year: 2001

Nissan Frontier Year: 2001

Number Potentially Involved: 44,000

Dates of Manufacture: October 2000 – January 2001

Defect: On certain pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, the fuel tank inlet shutter valve does not meet the sealing performance specification. Under certain conditions, such as high ambient temperature and when winter grade gasoline is being sold, fuel could spill from the filler inlet as the tank is being filled. In the presence of an ignition source, fuel leakage could result in a fire.

Remedy: Dealers will replace the fuel tank inlet shutter valve. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification began Jan. 13, 2003.

Nissan North America, Inc.

Models: Nissan Frontier XE Year: 2003

Number Potentially Involved: 6,500

Dates of Manufacture: July – November 2002

Defect: On certain sport utility vehicles equipped with a V6 engine, an incorrect size wheel rim for the spare tire was provided. The wheel rim does not fit properly as a replacement for a front wheel. When installed on the front of the vehicle, the wheel rim will contact the brake caliper, causing a loud rubbing noise. This could result in wear on the caliper and/or wheel rim if driving continues. Continued usage of the spare tire wheel at the front location can also result in loosening of the lug nuts and deterioration in braking performance. This could eventually cause the wheel assembly to separate form the vehicle and result in loss of control and a crash.

Remedy: Dealers will replace the spare tire wheel rim with a new one, and remount the spare tire on it. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification began Jan. 13, 2003.

Saab Cars USA, Incorporated

Models: Saab 900 Year: 1995

Number Potentially Involved: 20,476

Dates of Manufacture: January 1994 – April 1995

Defect: On certain passenger vehicles, the air bag electronic control unit (ECU) is designed to sense and discriminate frontal impact events, command air bag and seat belt pre-tensioner deployments in a timely manner, and perform continuous diagnostics of the air bag system in the vehicle. Due to the possible insufficient sealing of the bottom of an electrolyte capacitor, it is possible for it to leak electrolyte within the air bag ECU. Also, in high humidity environments, the operation of the vehicle air conditioner can cause rapid cooling of the ECU, which in turn may cause the formation of condensation with the unit. If this moisture comes into contact with the electrolyte from the capacitor, it forms a highly conductive material that could create an electrical short circuit. This electrical short could trigger the air bags and seat belt pre-tensioners.

Remedy: Dealers will install a new air bag ECU. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification is expected to begin during March 2003.

Volvo Cars of North America, Inc.

Models: Volvo 854 Years: 1996-1997

Volvo 855 Years: 1996-1997

Number Potentially Involved: 65,000

Dates of Manufacture: June 1995 – December 1996

Defect: On certain sedans and station wagons equipped with seat heaters, it is possible that excessive compression of the seat cushion could cause damage to the electrical wiring of the seat heater. This could result in a short circuit that could cause a fire.

Remedy: Dealers will disconnect the existing wires and install a new electronic thermostat and cable harness. The manufacturer has reported that owner notification is expected to begin during February 2003.

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