General Motors Corp. Yesterday voluntarily recalled about 225,000 of its new, not selling "X-cars" to correct a defect in automatic transmission cooler line hoses that the company says could cause a fire under the hood.
GM also said it will make a second correction in 160,000 of the recalled cars on the steering gear mounting plates. The company said those plates could develop fatigue cracks, causing excessive steering wheel play.
The recall covers virtually all X-car production of automatic-transmission vehicles through the end of August, after which the problems apparently were corrected at the factory.
GM's X-cars, a new line of front-wheel-drive autos introduced last spring, are the Chevrolet Citation, Oldsmobile Omega, Buick Skylark and Pontiac Phoenix. The X-car designation is a holdover from the vehicles' experimental status during development, according to a GM spokesman.
The company said it had not received any reports of accidents or injuries relating to the problems in the recall.But GM spokesman Bill Knight said the company knows of nine hood fires resulting from transmission fluid leaks.
The company said it would contact all vehicle owners involved for installation of new hoses and a new mounting bracket for the steering problem.
This is the first official recall of the new X-cars, although the company ran into safety defect problems with the cars just days before they were introduced last April.
At that time, the company acknowledged finding nine potentially major safety defects in the cars during the weeks before their introduction, but said it would be able to correct the problems.
The Center for Auto Safety, a consumer group, has sent "several complaints on X-car steering problems" to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for investigation, according to CAS executive director Clarence Ditlow.
Ditlow also said that "we have had reports of fires under the hoods, but no reports of injuries." He said it is not known if the problems cited by GM in yesterday's recall were the cause of the complaints he has received.
NHTSA said the recall was entirely voluntary, and the agency had not been involved in any way.
'GM's Knight said in Detroit the reports of fires led to the transmission recall and durability testing led to the steering recall.
He said most cars "probably never" would suffer cracked mounting plates, but added that he could not say how long cars would have to be run before such cracks might show up.