Federal safety regulators have launched a preliminary investigation into reports that nearly 900,000 General Motors sport-utility vehicles could be subject to unexpectedly running out of fuel and stalling because of potentially faulty gas gauges.
Though the problem involves vehicles produced mid-decade, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says there has been an apparent increase in the number of reports linked to the problem during the last year.
The investigation centers around 2005 through 2007 SUVs sold under the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier and Saab 9-7 nameplates. All share a common platform and many of their components, including gas gauges.
The NHTSA has so far received 668 complaints alleging that the gauges may provide random and inaccurate readings, possibly indicating there is gas in a tank that has actually run dry. The result is that “the vehicle (may run) out of fuel …causing vehicle stall with no restart,” the agency said.
Of those complaints, 58 incidents involved a vehicle stalling, and in one case that led to an accident when the SUV was stuck on the exit ramp of a freeway and struck from behind..
GM says it is cooperating with the investigation.
A preliminary investigation is ordered when there is enough evidence to suggest a vehicle might be experiencing a safety defect. But only after a full investigation will NHTSA decide whether a recall is needed for the 865,000 GM sport-utility vehicles.
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