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U.S. Steps Up Probe of Alleged Fire Danger in Pontiac Fieros

From Associated Press

Federal engineers have intensified their investigation into allegations that nearly 150,000 Pontiac Fieros are in danger of catching fire because of escaping oil, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday.

The agency said it has received 148 complaints regarding the General Motors Corp. cars, including reports of six injuries.

Contact With Engine Parts

Low levels of engine oil may cause a connecting rod to break, allowing oil to escape and come into contact with engine parts.

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The oil “would catch on fire when it contacted the exhaust manifold or hot exhaust components,” the agency’s engineers said in summarizing the alleged defect.

The engineering analysis, raised from a lower-level preliminary evaluation begun in December, affects 147,571 Fieros from the 1985 and 1986 model years, the NHTSA said.

GM in 1987 agreed to recall 126,000 1984-model Fieros after similar reports of fires, the NHTSA said.

Out of Production

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The Fiero went out of production in 1988 in what was “strictly a marketing decision,” said David Hudgens, a GM spokesman in Detroit.

The 1985 and 1986 Fieros had the same oil-system design as did the recalled 1984 models, Hudgens said.

“If you ran out of oil, and then that coupled with some aggressive driving perhaps and maybe not changing the oil very often, you end up with a broken rod, and that’s where the connecting rod came in,” Hudgens said. “It is still the owner’s responsibility to check the oil.”

The agency also opened a preliminary evaluation into unconfirmed reports of power-steering loss in GM’s 1987 A-body cars with 4-cylinder engines. The A-body cars are the Buick Century, Chevrolet Celebrity, Oldsmobile Ciera and Pontiac 6000.

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NHTSA said it had received nine complaints, including one accident with an injury, of fluid leaking from the power-steering pressure hose, which resulted in a sudden loss of steering assistance.

The investigation involves 527,459 cars, the NHTSA said.


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