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GM Recalls 279,000 1999 SUVs

Updated:
WASHINGTON (AP) — General Motors Corp. will voluntarily recall about 279,000 sport utility vehicles that failed an air bag test but says the vehicles pose no safety threat.

The recall announced Wednesday involves 1999 model year Chevrolet Tahoes, GMC Yukons and Cadillac Escalades built between Sept. 1, 1998, and May 5, 1999.

GM filed a petition in August asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to disregard the test. NHTSA planned to deny the petition, agency officials said Wednesday, and GM dropped the request.

In the February 1999 crash test, the head of the unbelted dummy went through the bag and its chin touched the dashboard, then snapped back. The amount of extension on the dummy's neck exceeded the federal standard by about 17 percent.

GM was unable to reproduce the test results. The company believes the NHTSA test was an anomaly that occurred based on lab conditions that would not exist in real crashes, said Robert Lange, engineering director of the GM Safety Center.

``We've spent a significant amount of time and effort to figure out mechanically what happened because we were surprised with the result,'' Lange said.

The recall includes Yukons and Escalades because many have the same air bag system as the Tahoe that failed the test.

Lange said the company initiated the recall even though it does not believe there is a safety threat because ``it will make NHTSA happy. And it would make us happy to close this issue.''

GM dealers will install a color-coordinated foam strip on the edge of the dashboard of the affected SUVs at no cost to customers. Lange estimated the company would spend $10 million to $20 million on the recall.

Affected owners will be notified of the recall by mail. Lange said the automaker will need several months to produce the strips.

NHTSA officials said the agency will monitor the recall to ensure the strip addressed the problem.

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On the Net: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov

http://www.gm.com
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