Regulators Step Up Minivan Probe--2.8 Million Chrysler Minivans May Be Recalled : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Tuesday March 20 2:18 AM ET Report: Regulators Step Up Minivan Probe

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Federal auto-safety regulators are stepping up a probe of 2.8 million DaimlerChrysler AG (DCXGn.DE) minivans that may have an electrical problem which would prevent their air bags from deploying in a crash, the Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition on Tuesday.

The agency's investigation is being upgraded from a preliminary evaluation -- in which regulators and auto officials exchange paperwork -- to an engineering analysis, in which the government actually inspects parts, the paper said. If that study confirms the existence of a problem, it could lead to a recall, according to the report.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (news - web sites) said it has received 164 complaints about a possible defect in the vehicle's clockspring assembly, the mechanism that allows electricity to flow through the steering wheel and steering column for the driver-side air bag, horn and cruise-control circuits, the paper said.

In some cases, the coiled wiring cable inside the clockspring broke, rendering the horn or cruise-control system inoperable, NHTSA officials were reported as saying,

NHTSA officials said they are concerned that under such circumstances, the driver-side air bag also might be rendered inoperable, according to the paper. Dominick Infante, a DaimlerChrysler spokesman, was reported as saying the German-American auto maker is cooperating with the government's investigation.

The vehicles being investigated by NHTSA include the 1996 through 2000 models of the Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan; Plymouth Voyager and Grand Voyager; and the Chrysler Town & Country, the paper said.

-- Carl Jenkins (, March 20, 2001

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