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Chrysler Recalls 640,000 Cars in 2 Campaigns

Moves involve patch in 1997 minivans, ignition module short-circuits in 2001 Jeep Wranglers.

April 10, 2002|JOHN O'DELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Chrysler Group unit of German-American auto maker Daimler Chrysler is recalling 640,000 vehicles in two separate campaigns that were announced last week but overshadowed by General Motors Corp.'s much larger and news-making recall of 1.9 million cars to repair a potentially faulty ignition switch.

Toyota, Pontiac and Mazda also issued recalls this month.

Chrysler's recall involves 545,311 Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth minivans from the 1997 model year and 95,000 Jeep Wranglers from the 2001 model year.

The minivans are being called in to replace a plastic patch, or plug, that covers an access hole in the rear, or "D" pillar. The company said the patch could fall off the pillar and into the rear seat belt mechanism, keeping the belts from latching securely.

The Jeep recall involves Wrangler models made from June 2000 to December 2001. Chrysler said a potential fire problem exists because of reports of short-circuits in the ignition module.

Chrysler was to begin mailing notices to owners of affected Jeep vehicles this week.

Mazda is recalling 14,000 MPV minivans built from November 2001 to February 2002, and sold as '02 models. The gross vehicle weight limit--which helps determine several critical factors including minimum tire sizes--was listed incorrectly on labels affixed to the vehicles. A corrected label will be installed. Mazda said it would begin notifying affected vehicle owners this month.

Toyota is recalling 8,483 Corollas and Pontiac is recalling 2,701 of its new Vibe crossover wagon--both to fix improperly tightened rear wheel bolts. The rear wheel bolts were not tightened sufficiently at the factory and could come loose, causing noises and, if all four came loose, separation of the wheel and brake assembly from the rear axle.

The vehicles use the same platform and were built in January and February at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Northern California that is owned by GM and Toyota. The companies said they began notifying owners last month.Separately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's monthly reminder of previously announced automotive recalls--issued to alert vehicle owners who might have missed the initial notices--shows that in February:

* DaimlerChrysler recalled 1.62million Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured from June 1992 to May 1998 because those Jeeps can roll backward if the gear shift isn't fully in the "park" position and the engine is running. The agency is investigating five deaths in connection with that vehicle. Jeep dealers will add a secondary "park" position locking mechanism. Chrysler was to begin notifying owners late last month.

* DaimlerChrysler recalled 316,148 Jeep Wranglers equipped with manual transmissions and manufactured from July 1989 to December 1995. The Wranglers, sold as 1990 through 1995 models, have parking brakes that can disengage after being set, allowing the vehicles to roll if parked on an incline. The repair involves installing a stronger spring in the parking brake locking mechanism. Chrysler said that it would begin notifying owners this month.

* Chrysler's Dodge unit recalled 268,740 full-size Ram pickup trucks from the 2001 model year, built from January to August 2000, to fix an electrical connection that can come loose and cause a fire. Owner notification was to begin by early May.

* Nissan Motor Co. recalled 39,000 Nissan Maximas and Infiniti I35s, all 2002 models, because a defect in the electronic accelerator system can cause them to slow unexpectedly. Notification was to begin this month.

* BMW recalled 4,672 of its 2002 model year 325i , 525i and 530i models manufactured in November 2001, for repair of an improperly secured front strut bearing that could cause the strut to separate from its mount, impairing vehicle handling and control. Owner notification was to begin this month.

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