Chrysler recalls 1.23 million cars to fix seat

DETROIT, Feb 14, 2003; Reuters reported that the Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler said on Friday it has recalled 1.23 million cars in North America because the front seat could suddenly recline due a faulty bolt.

Chrysler also announced two smaller recalls, covering 23,000 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks, and 11,655 Chrysler and Plymouth Prowlers from the 1997-2002 model years.

The recall of 1.23 million cars covers the 1998 to 2002 models of the Chrysler 300M, Concorde, LHS and Intrepid and the Dodge Intrepid and includes about 1.07 million cars sold in the United States and more than 167,000 vehicles sold in Canada and Mexico, Chrysler said.

Chrysler said it will replace the seat bolt -- which the company found could loosen due to premature wear -- at no charge. For the 1998-2000 vehicles with power seats, Chrysler said it would also replace a flex-shaft, which helps move the seat forward or backward.

Chrysler said it was investigating two accidents that resulted in injuries that could be related to the faulty seat bolts.

The recall is one of the largest in the automotive industry since General Motors Corp. last November recalled 1.5 million minivans and cars to repair the steering unit, which could lose power and make it difficult to steer.

Chrysler executives have said the quality of its vehicles has improved and its warranty costs have fallen 50 percent over the past five years. The company has offered a 7-year or 70,000 mile warranty on its engine and transmission to back up its claims of improved quality.

"People don't realize yet that our vehicles are much more reliable than our reputation. They don't know that yet," Jim Schroer, head of sales and marketing for Chrysler, told Reuters in an interview at the Chicago auto show this week.

Chrysler also said on Friday it recalled 11,655 of its Chrysler and Plymouth Prowlers from the 1997-2002 model years to replace part of the front suspension, which could separate due to corrosion. The company said it was aware of two minor accidents that resulted in no injuries.

Chrysler also said it recalled 23,000 of its 2003 model year Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks, which have diesel engines and manual transmissions, to reprogram the engine control software.

The trucks could have increased idle speed after extended use of the cruise control, which could result in unintended acceleration and the risk of a crash, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site. Chrysler said it was unaware of any accidents that resulted from the problem.

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