Ford Pickup Scores Top Safety Marks
The redesigned 2004 pickup earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's top safety rating in two frontal crash tests, the Associated Press reported.
The F-150 was the only 2004 pickup to score that well in a test that included the newly redesigned and the .
The 2004 F-150 earned five stars in NHTSA's front driver and front passenger tests. The GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado earned four stars on NHTSA's two frontal tests, and, on its side-impact test on the passenger, they got five stars.
Four stars means the chance of serious injury is between 11 and 20 percent.
NHTSA also posted ratings for pickups that were tested earlier and weren't redesigned for the 2004 model year.
An extended cab version of the 2004 has the worst ratings of the 28 pickups listed, the story said, earning three stars on front and side tests. Three stars means the chance of serious injury in a crash similar to the 35-mph test is between 21 and 35 percent.
ldsmobile, Chrysler Recall Models
Oldsmobile is recalling 93,572 Aurora sedans because fuel can leak into the engine and start a fire, the Associated Press reported, citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The recall affects Auroras from the 1995-1997 model years.
NHTSA said it has received 123 complaints about the problem. The agency said the fuel is leaking because the nylon tubing used in the fuel rail can degrade and crack. Owners will be notified later this spring of GM's plans to repair the vehicles.
The Chrysler recalls include about 34,500 2004 model year to install new engine software to prevent stalling at low speeds. Chrysler also recalled about 14,600 2004 model year Jeep Grand Cherokees equipped with 4.0-liter engines to replace an engine sensor that could malfunction and cause the engine to stall, NHTSA said.
It said Chrysler was also recalling about 2,800 2004 model year Jeep Libertys because the door locks could malfunction.
Ford Vans to Get Stabilizing Equipment
Ford plans to begin equipping its 15-passenger vans with electronic stabilizing technology starting with the 2006 model year, the Associated Press reported.
The stability enhancement system uses sensors to recognize wheel skid and activate the brakes to keep the vehicle on course. It is similar to systems used in the sport utility vehicle, and Lincoln Aviator and , Ford spokeswoman Carolyn Brown told the AP.
These large vans, which are sold only by Ford and General Motors, have become the target of federal safety regulators and numerous product liability lawsuits. In addition, some insurance companies have stopped writing policies on such vehicles.
In 2002, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration renewed a safety warning for these big vans which cautioned that when carrying 10 or more people, they are three times more likely to roll over than lightly loaded vans,
"The vehicle is a very safe vehicle," Ford's Brown said. "People just need to understand ... that it's not a car. It has a higher center of gravity. It should not be overloaded. It should not be driven at excessive speed."
General Motors said last year it would begin offering its 15-passenger vans with standard stabilizing equipment.
Toyota May Add Hybrid Camry
Toyota may sell a hybrid version of its best-selling in 2006, Reuters reported, citing the Nihon Keizai, a Japanese business daily.
The story said that Toyota was aiming to sell 100,000 gasoline-electric Camrys a year, mainly in North America. Toyota currently sells over 400,000 Camrys annually in the United States, making the sedan that market's most popular passenger car.
A Toyota spokesman declined to comment on the report. "We do not talk about our product plans," he said.
But such a plan would fit in with Toyota's goal of producing 300,000 hybrids annually by the middle of the decade, the paper said.
Toyota staked its claim as world leader in hybrid technology in December 1997 when it launched the sedan, the first mass-produced vehicle to combine a battery-powered motor and a gasoline engine. Honda is the only other car firm currently selling hybrids; it markets a hybrid version of its and plans an hybrid in the U.S. market this autumn.
GM Pulls Some Models From Market
General Motors will temporarily stop shipping some 2004 full-size pickup trucks, SUVs and vans because of a problem that could cause transmissions to fail, The Detroit News reported.
The company also asked dealers not to sell or deliver the trucks to customers.
The transmissions, produced at GM's Willow Run transmission plant, could fail because of a faulty pump that may prevent lubrication from reaching overdrive gearset bearings, a GM spokeswoman told the News.
About 25,000 vehicles may be affected. Of those, 8,000 have been delivered to customers and another 1,700 are in transit between assembly plants and dealers. The company believes only about 2,000 vehicles actually have the problem, which does not pose a safety issue, the GM spokeswoman said.