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Steering In GM's Malibu Is Under Scrutiny
The Wall Street Journal
April 6, 2004
By Sharon Silke Carty

DETROIT -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is opening a preliminary investigation into General Motors Corp.'s 2004 Chevrolet Malibu after eight drivers complained they lost power steering while the car was in motion.

The agency also said it upgraded its investigation into seat warmers in Volkswagen AG's Jetta and announced a recall of some of Volkswagen's Audi models due to a potential dashboard fire hazard.

In the case of the Malibus, the agency said seven of the vehicles had been driven 5,000 miles or less. The agency said drivers complained the cars suddenly lost all power-steering assistance. No crashes or injuries have been associated with the problem. The seat-warmer investigation concerns 2002 and 2003 Jettas, in which heaters have malfunctioned, causing burns in the seats.

An upgraded investigation is the second step in the investigation process. The next step would be a recall. More than 153,000 Jettas are potentially affected by the problem. The NHTSA said Audi is recalling 172,866 vehicles because a wiring problem could cause a fire in the dashboard. The recall affects A6, S6 and Allroad Quattro vehicles made from 1998 to 2004. Audi said there have been no injuries related to the defect.

Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson Inc. is recalling 73,678 of its FL touring motorcycles from model years 2001 through 2003 due to a potential circuit-breaker problem.
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