Feds to Probe Complaints of Battery Problems with GM SUVs

Published June 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

A federal safety agency is investigating more than 760,000 sport utility vehicles made by General Motors Corp., The Associated Press reported on Wednesday. There were complaints that some batteries leak acid, which can cause loss of power and increase the risk of a crash.  

According to the AP, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Tuesday that there have been 212 complaints about the problem, including reports of two crashes and one injury. GM reports 25,122 warranty claims related to the problem on the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and the GMC Yukon.  

The AP said the agency has upgraded the investigation into the vehicles from model years 1995 through 1997 to study the batteries. It notes the problem may be related to warmer temperatures, since 60 percent of complaints came from California, Florida, Georgia and Texas.  

The agency quoted a General Motors spokesman as saying the company is aware of the investigation and is cooperating with NHTSA.  

NHTSA opens any safety investigation with a preliminary inquiry in which the government and manufacturer exchange paperwork that includes any complaints.  

The investigation then could be upgraded to an engineering analysis, during which engineers study parts to see if they are defective, as in the GM case. An investigation eventually can lead to a recall, but many are dropped.  

The AP also reported on Wednesday that NHTSA also began a preliminary investigation into some Firestone tires after some consumers complained that the tire’s tread can separate while driving at highway speeds.  

AP said there have been 90 complaints, including reports of 33 crashes resulting in 27 injuries and 4 deaths.  

"Some drivers heard a loud noise seconds before the loss of control, but others heard nothing," said a NHTSA report. "Those that did hear a noise often reported that the loss of control occurred so quickly they were not able to avoid a collision."  

The investigation involves the ATX, ATX II and Wilderness models, which were installed as original equipment on some Ford Explorer, Ranger and F150 vehicles and were also available as replacement tires for those and other vehicles, said the report – Albawaba.com. 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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