AUTOMOBILES

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Doubt Is Cast on Pickup Recall Case Against GM: Federal lawyers say the government could lose a court challenge to a recall of 6 million General Motors Corp. pickups, the Detroit News reported. The government has been investigating GM pickups made between 1973 and 1987 to determine if they pose a deadly fire hazard. Sources reportedly said Justice Department lawyers had informed the Transportation Department's chief counsel that a recall of the pickups could probably not withstand a challenge. Critics say the GM trucks' sidesaddle fuel tanks are prone to punctures and explosions. GM says the trucks are safe. The lawyers reportedly said GM has three good arguments: The trucks have significantly lower crash fatality rates than many vehicles, including smaller trucks and cars; the government cannot recall vehicles that comply with federal safety standards, and there is little evidence the tanks leak excessively in crashes at less than 40 m.p.h.

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