WASHINGTON (AP) _ Isuzu Motors Ltd. is recalling some 2000 and 2001 model year Troopers after the sport utility vehicle leaked fuel in crash tests by an insurance industry group.
The recall affects 18,460 vehicles _ all 2000 Troopers with four-wheel drive and 2001 models with four-wheel drive that were produced before the problem was discovered this month.
The Troopers leaked fuel in two of three front crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which released the results Tuesday. Fuel leaks are considered a serious problem because they can result in a fire if ignited.
``We've conducted well over 100 frontal offset crash tests, and this is the first time we've seen a major fuel system leak,'' said Brian O'Neill, president of the Arlington, Va.-based institute.
In the first test conducted on a 2000 Trooper on June 21, a fuel line separated. Isuzu engineers found a design problem and issued a voluntary recall of the 2000 vehicles.
The automaker sent a letter to vehicle owners and dealers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Sept. 21 but did not announce the recall to the media.
The institute conducted a second test the day after the recall with a 2001 model with the new fuel line design, but the fuel hose tore, causing a second leak. Isuzu issued another recall to cover 2001 models on Monday.
There was no fuel leak in the institute's third test Nov. 2, but the organization still gave the vehicle a ``marginal'' rating, largely because of poor bumper performance and injuries measured on a crash-test dummy's legs.
The institute tests a vehicle by running it at an angle into a barrier at 40 mph, then rates it as good, acceptable, marginal or poor. The institute's tests are particularly demanding because only the driver's side of a vehicle strikes the barrier, forcing a relatively small portion of the vehicle to absorb the crash energy.
The federal government's crash tests involve driving vehicles into a rigid barrier with the full width of the front end making contact. The federal government has not tested the 2000 or 2001 model years of the Trooper.
The institute also tested the 2001 BMW X5, the 2001 Mitsubishi Montero and the 2000 Nissan Xterra. The BMW was rated good and also earned a coveted ``best pick'' designation, while the other two SUVs were rated acceptable.
Complete testing results and crash video can be accessed at