WASHINGTON – The government is investigating whether the rear coil spring can fracture and punch a hole in the rear tires of some models of the Ford Taurus (search) and Mercury Sable (search), federal auto safety officials said Tuesday.
In a separate probe, the government is reviewing potential turn signal malfunctions in three General Motors Co. (search) models — the 2002 Chevrolet Malibu, Oldsmobile Alero and Pontiac Grand Am.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (search) said it opened a preliminary investigation into the 2000-2001 models of the Taurus and Sable sedans after receiving 131 complaints about broken coil springs.
The inquiry involves about 467,000 vehicles. The Taurus was among the best-selling passenger cars in the United States during the two model years.
Most of the complaints came from northern states where vehicles are often subject to salt corrosion during the winter. About half of the owners who filed complaints said there were punctures in the rear tires because of the broken coil springs.
Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said the automaker was cooperating with NHTSA and "we'll be reviewing the reports that they've received to better understand the allegations."
There have been no crashes, injuries or fatalities linked to the Taurus and Sable review.
In the GM case, the government said it was reviewing nearly 400,000 passenger cars.
NHTSA said it has received 42 complaints about a turn signal malfunction that leads to flickering or total failure of the turn signal lights and the indicator on the instrument panel.
In 2003, GM conducted a recall of 2000-2001 models of the Malibu, Alero, and Grand Am to replace defective hazard switches that caused the turn signals and hazard lamps to fail. GM said then that the hazard switch caused the problem.
In December 2004, GM said it would replace the hazard switch at no cost for 1999-2000 model year vehicles of the Alero, Grand Am and Malibu sedans under 10 years or 150,000 miles.
GM spokesman Alan Adler (search) said the company was cooperating with NHTSA in the investigation. There have been no crashes, injuries or deaths connected to the issue.