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NHTSA: GM Recalling Pickups and SUVs; Hyundai Sonata's; Jeep Latch Investigation

WASHINGTON August 30, 2005; Ken Thomas writing for the AP reported that General Motors Corp. said Tuesday it was recalling about 800,000 sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks in 14 northern states because corrosion was affecting the antilock brake system, leading to more than 200 low-speed crashes.

GM, the world's largest automaker, said the recall involved the 1999-2002 model years of the Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra, GMC Yukon and GMC Yukon XL.

In separate moves, Hyundai Motor Corp. issued a recall of the 2006 Sonata sedan, and the government announced an investigation of the 2002 Jeep Liberty.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation in late April of more than 1.2 million GM pickups and SUVs in 20 states because of questions over the antilock brakes. The investigation is pending.

GM spokesman Alan Adler said road grime can wedge its way into a plastic piece that covers the ABS sensor near the wheel hub, resulting in salt corrosion.

The corrosion leads the sensors to activate the ABS system at speeds of 3.7 miles per hour to 10 mph, requiring a longer stopping distance. With the 2003 models, the ABS system in the vehicles was changed so it would start at speeds of 15 to 20 mph, Adler said.

GM said there have been 228 crashes reported through the end of May, including 10 minor injuries, the most recent data available. No fatalities have been reported.

The company recalled about 150,000 pickups in eastern Canada in November 2004 from the same model years because of the condition in the antilock brakes.

The recall involves less than 20 percent of the vehicles built during the four model years. The states include: Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

Last spring, NHTSA said it was investigating the issue in the 14 states covered by the recall and six others: Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The District of Columbia was also included in the investigation.

Adler said the company decided to issue the recall in the 14 states based upon incident rates. GM and the government have received more than 700 complaints about the problem.

A specific recall date has not been announced but the company will notify owners, who will be instructed to take their vehicles into dealerships to have the trucks repaired for free.

Hyundai, meanwhile, said it was recalling about 36,000 2006 Sonata sedans because of problems with the driver's seat belt getting caught up with a knob used to recline the front seat. The problem was identified during tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Hyundai spokesman Miles Johnson said the company was conducting the recall "to ensure the quality and safety of our vehicles." He said about 10,000 of the models were sold through the end of July and all vehicles under production had received replacement parts by mid-August.

NHTSA also said it was opening an investigation into the 2002 Jeep Liberty amid complaints about problems latching the seat belt buckle. The probe will involve more than 200,000 vehicles.

The government said it had received seven complaints from owners about the seat belt buckle, including problems securing the latch in the buckle.

Max Gates, a DaimlerChrysler AG spokesman, said the automaker would work with the agency during the investigation and identify any necessary actions.

General Motors Corp.: http://www.gm.com/

Hyundai Motor America: http://www.hyundaiusa.com/

DaimlerChrysler AG: http://www.daimlerchrysler.com/