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GM Recalls About 900,000 Pickup Trucks

WASHINGTON March 10, 2006; Ken Thomas writing for the AP reported that General Motors Corp. said Friday it is recalling about 900,000 pickup trucks worldwide to fix tailgate cables that can corrode and break when loads are placed on them.

The recall involves 1999-2000 models of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. GM said there have been 84 injuries, most of them minor scrapes and bumps, but no crashes or deaths linked to the problem.

GM, the world's No. 1 automaker, said the galvanized, braided-steel support cables that keep the tailgates in place can corrode or fracture over time because of moisture seeping through cracks in the plastic sheathing of the cable or entering between the cable's metal strands.

The automaker had recalled about 4 million 2000-2004 pickups worldwide in March 2004 because the tailgates could break without warning. The recall involved a broader range of vehicles, including the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT trucks.

GM spokesman Alan Adler said the vehicles covered by the new recall had different materials used in the support cables and involved fewer complaints. He said the automaker decided to issue the recall after "an exhaustive investigation."

"We worked with (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) and agreed to do the recall to get this behind us," Adler said.

NHTSA had been investigating the vehicles. More than 800,000 of the trucks are located in the United States, and about 90,000 vehicles are in Mexico and Canada. About 3,800 of the recalled trucks were exported to countries around the globe.

Owners are expected to receive recall notices in April, but they can bring their trucks into a dealership for inspection if they suspect problems with the cables, Adler said. Under the recall, dealers will replace the galvanized support cables with ones made with stainless steel.

Most of the injuries stemmed from people sitting on the tailgate or occurred while people were unloading items from the truck bed. The company has advised owners not to sit on the tailgate.

GM said if both cables fractured, the tailgate would drop and strike the top of the rear bumper, which could cause someone standing or sitting on the tailgate to fall.

In a separate action, GM plans to issue a "special policy" letter in June regarding the cables to more than 950,000 owners of Chevrolet S-10 and GMC Sonoma pickups from the 2000-2003 model years. The action is not a recall, but provides owners with an inspection procedure to check the tailgate for any problems.

If owners notice any bulges in the cable or tears in the plastic covering, they can bring their S-10 or Sonoma to a dealer for inspection and replacement of the cables.

About 2.7 million trucks from the 2004 recall have been repaired and the automaker is trying to track down owners who have not participated, Adler said.