OUCH! ONE MORE FOCUS RECALL
Ford has issued the ninth recall for the otherwise pleasant Focus compact. The latest safety recall involves more than 500 SVT Focus hatchbacks; the company says the throttle on the high-performance model could stick in the open position. The SVT Focus is built along with the other three-doors in Hermosillo, Mexico. No accidents or injuries have been traced to the problem.
2002 Ford SVT Focus by Marty Padgett (2/27/2002)
2002 Jeep Liberty
LIBERTY NOT BEING RECALLED — BUT CHANGED
The Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler AG said on Tuesday it was lowering the suspension of its popular Jeep Liberty sport utility vehicle after safety and stability questions were raised by two automotive enthusiast magazines. Reuters reports that both AutoWeek and German Auto Bild magazine observed unusual responses during testing of the Liberty; AutoWeek’s driver rolled a vehicle, while Bild noted “uncertain” handling. The news service says Jeep now builds Libertys with suspensions lowered by 22 mm in front and 19 mm in back, which a Chrysler spokesman said was a decision driven in part by the test results. No official recall of the vehicle has been issued.
Schrempp Upbeat at DC Meeting (4/15/2002)
THE REST OF JEEP…
While the Liberty isn’t being recalled, Chrysler has issued a major recall of other Jeep vehicles, some 1.1 million of them. The recall — which includes 1999-2002 Jeep Grand Cherokees, 2000-2001 Jeep Cherokees, and 2000-2002 Jeep Wranglers — affects vehicles with the 4.0-liter in-line six engine. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says debris can collect and create the risk of fire. Repairs will be performed by dealers for free. In February, Jeep recalled some 1.6 million Grand Cherokees to modify the transmission shifter to prevent vehicles from rolling out of park; Chrysler did not admit in that recall that its vehicles were at fault.
SAFE ARE 15-PASSENGER VANS?
That’s the question being raised by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which said yesterday that it’s considering putting a rollover warning label on the extra-large people carriers. The director of the agency, Dr. Jeffrey Runge, says the vans are far more prone to rollovers when they carry more than ten people. The 15-passenger versions of Big Three vans were involved in accidents that claimed 864 lives in the 1990s, the NHTSA said in a statement. The vans are popular for carrying school and church groups, but a commercial license isn’t required to pilot one.
ABS IS DROPPING, BUT NOT SO MUCH
General Motors is reducing the number of cars that offer standard anti-lock brakes (ABS), but the numbers aren’t falling as fast as GM thinks the public thinks. The company said on Monday that fully 82 percent of its models and 70 percent of the vehicles it sells would have standard anti-lock brakes. That number is down from 90 percent of models in 2002. GM says that, with the adjustment in standard ABS, its vehicle lineup will be equipped like the competition, and that mostly, only base versions of less expensive vehicles will be left wanting for the safety add-on.
OFFERING SUPERCHARGER FOR CAV/SUNFIRE
Cavalier a little too cavalier? Sunfire not catching fire? GM says you can remedy the dearth of performance yourself with its new supercharger kit. The 2.4L Twin Cam kit, GM says, is available for the Chevy/Pontiac compacts and adds more than 40 lb-ft of torque to the standard motor. No price was announced in an official release, but GM says the kit will include all the pieces necessary for installation in one box, although the vehicle control module needs reprogramming at an authorized GM dealer. A 12-month/12,000-mile warranty also comes with the kit.
LAUNCHES “THE PERFECT DRIVE”
In a bid to boost awareness of its three coupes — the NSX and CL and RSX Type-S two-doors — Acura is setting out to find “The Perfect Drive.” The Honda luxury brand will sponsor a great-drives section in the May issue of Conde Nast Traveler, will partner with Entertainment Weekly for music/driving editorial, will sponsor a TV segment on its cars on the Speed Channel, and finally, will track it all online at www.acura.com/perfectdrive, beginning April 22.
HUNK GETS REAL JOB — AS A RACER
And you thought there was no life after working with Shannen Doherty. Jason Priestly, ex of Fox’s Beverly Hills 90210, is set to drive for Kelley Racing in the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series. Priestly, a longtime racing fan and racer with a Grand Am win under his belt, has also done color commentary for televised IRL races. The series opens with the first of seven races July 7 at Kansas Speedway.