Chrysler, Ford, Mazda Recall Over 1 Million Vehicles

DETROIT Dec 11, 2004; Tom Brown writing for Reuters reported that DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler division said on Friday it was recalling about 600,000 Dodge Durango sport utility vehicles and Dodge Dakota pickup trucks because of concerns about their safety.

Separately, Ford Motor Co. said on Friday it was recalling about 474,000 Escape and Mazda Tribute SUVs.

Chrysler had disclosed on Thursday that U.S. federal safety regulators had asked it to recall the vehicles from the 2000 to 2003 model years. Some of the SUVs and trucks have had problems with an important suspension joint that Chrysler has blamed on corrosion in northern states where salt is used to clear roads of ice.

On Friday, Chrysler said an internal investigation has shown that the front suspension upper ball joints on some vehicles may be subject to corrosion and progressive wear.

It acknowledged that "in extreme cases" the corrosion problem could lead to "separation of the front suspension."

Chrysler said no substantiated reports of injuries had been linked to the recall.

The car company said front suspension upper ball joints on the vehicles would be replaced at no cost to their owners.

In addition to the recall, which industry analysts expect to be a costly one for Chrysler, the company said it would offer an extended 10-year or 100,000 mile warranty on the suspension upper ball joints on 400,000 2000-2003 Durangos and Dakotas not affected by the safety action.

Only four-wheel drive versions of the Durango and Dakota are affected by the recall.

Ford said its Escape and Tribute small SUVs were being recalled because an accelerator cable may prevent their engines from returning to idle, increasing stopping distances and potentially resulting in a crash.

Vehicles affected by the recall are from the 2002-2004 model years and have 3.0 liter engines. Ford owns one-third of Mazda Motor Corp.

No injuries or accidents were reported.

Separately, federal regulators said earlier on Friday that it was recalling more than 98,000 Chrysler cars and SUVs because of problems that could cause either engine compartment fires or crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said vehicles affected by the recalls included 71,763 Durangos from the 2004 model year, which have battery cables that can abrade and potentially trigger a short circuit or underhood fire.

NHTSA said Chrysler was also recalling 26,354 Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus mid-size cars from the 2005 model year, because their right steering knuckles can crack and separate from the control arm, possibly resulting in a crash.

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