Mercedes recalling 65,000 vehicles for battery problem; GM recalling 268,000 cars for brake light trouble

Friday, January 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling 65,000 cars after owners complained of exploding batteries. General Motors is recalling 546,000 sport utility vehicles because the brake and hazard lights can fail.

Mercedes-Benz is asking owners of all 1998 and some 1999 C Class models to bring them to dealers so they can check the battery fluid. If the fluid is too low, it can expose electric plates and ignite gases inside.

``We're not necessarily going to be replacing them, in fact in most cases we won't be,'' Mercedes-Benz spokesman Fred Heiler said. ``There is nothing wrong with the battery if it is maintained correctly.''

At least five owners have reported their battery exploded. One person was injured by spraying acid and battery fragments. Mercedes-Benz dealers will put warning labels in the owner's manual and engine compartment saying the battery should be checked during every tune up.

The GM recall affects 2000 and 2001 models of its Chevrolet Blazer, GMC Jimmy and Oldsmobile Bravada. GM is aware of two crashes, but no injuries, related to the brake or hazard lights failing.

Mercedes-Benz and GM will make free repairs at their dealers.

The recalls ended government investigations into the problems and were included in a report released Friday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Investigations that begin with an inquiry into manufacturer paperwork can be upgraded into inspections of vehicle parts. Some investigations lead to a recall, but many are dropped because no defect is found.

NHTSA said it upgraded its investigation of 1995 to 1999 models of the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon and 1998 to 2000 models of the Yukon Denali and Cadillac Escalade. About 794,982 of the SUVs are involved.

The investigation stems from a complaint alleging a seat belt anchor detached from the frame during a side-impact crash, causing a passenger to be thrown through a window.

NHTSA also upgraded its investigation into 194,513 Blazer, Tahoe and Yukon vehicles from the 1992 to 1995 model years. At least 92 people have complained that a front seat bolt can loosen, causing the seat to suddenly recline.

Two drivers reported crashes, one of which resulted in injury. Seven others reported lower back pain, a sprained neck or nerve damage.

GM has recalled other pickups because of a similar problem.

NHTSA has opened an investigation into 2000 and 2001 models of the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Eclipse Spyder. Thirty-four complaints allege that the aluminum alloy wheels dent or fracture easily when going over potholes, railroad crossings or other rough road.

Nineteen of the complaints cited blowouts, cut tires or treads coming off. Four drivers said they lost control or skidded off the road.

The agency also opened an investigation into the 2000 and 2001 models of the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute. One hundred people have complained about the engine stalling without warning while the car is moving. No accidents have been reported.