Council gives car care month status report
BETHESDA, Md.-Halfway through National Car Care Month in April, the Car Care Council tallied up the promotion's media coverage and reported some positive results.
The Bethesda-based council said its video news release had aired 45 times on television stations across the country. More than 600 radio stations aired the radio version of the release. Other mentions included Willard Scott on NBC's ``Today'' show reminding the program's approximately 5 million viewers to check their vehicles; a Parade magazine feature about National Car Care Month, which was sent to the magazine's 35 million subscribers; a feature column in the Chicago Tribune's Cars section; and various mentions in other magazines, newspapers and on TV stations.
The council planned to conduct a special consumer survey in May to gauge awareness and attitude changes regarding National Car Care Month. Before this year, the event-which includes free vehicle inspections with the hope of educating consumers about vehicle maintenance as well as getting them to visit repair shops for more extensive work-was held in October. The education program is an extension of the council's Be Car Care Aware campaign. The council serves as the brand and information source for the campaigns, which are spearheaded by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association.
ASA will offer labor law posters, information
BEDFORD, Texas-The Automotive Service Association announced it will act as a clearinghouse for state and federal labor law posters and information.
The Bedford-based group said it can provide members with the necessary information that employers are required to post in the workplace. Otherwise, ASA said, employers often have to contact several different government agencies to gather the necessary information.
The laminated posters offered by ASA includes all the state, federal and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) postings required in the workplace. A spokesman said service shops in all states are eligible.
For more information, contact ASA at (800) 272-7467, ext. 295.
NHTSA mulling recall for Ford brake problems
WASHINGTON-Federal safety officials are investigating large Ford Motor Co. sedans from the 1995-97 model years to determine if they should be recalled for brake repairs.
The affected models are Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it has received 31 complaints about brake line failures, apparently from corrosion or abrasion caused by contact with the undercarriage of the vehicles. They include reports of two crashes.
NHTSA said that as many as 780,000 cars will be recalled if a safety defect is found.
The agency said that in 1998, Ford made a change in those vehicles that had been built for fleet use. The change, made as a safety improvement campaign rather than a recall, was to increase clearance between brake lines and the underside of the floorpan.
NHTSA also wants to determine if a safety defect is causing side-impact airbags in 2001 Lincoln Town Cars to deploy without crashes. It has collected 76 complaints and nine injuries have been reported.
The complaints suggest that side airbags may deploy when the undercarriage is struck by road debris or when the vehicle hits a pothole or other rough surface.
GM fixing car, minivan steering problems
WASHINGTON-General Motors Corp. is recalling about 1.5 million cars and minivans to repair a problem that makes steering difficult.
The recall covers 1996-98 Chevrolet Cavaliers, Pontiac Sunfires, Pontiac Trans Sports and Oldsmobile Silhouettes. Others are 1996 Lumina minivans and 1997-98 Chevrolet Ventures and Pontiac Grand Prixs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said car dealers will replace the lower pinion bearing or, if damage is severe, the entire rack and pinion gear assembly. Retainer tabs on the bearing were not properly crimped, the agency said. When a retainer fails, ball bearings come out.
When a driver turns left, the pinion shaft is forced upward. Over time, left turns become more difficult and steering more unpredictable, NHTSA said.
A GM spokesman said the company was aware of 15 crashes possibly related to the problem. Three minor injuries were reported.
About 1.2 million of the vehicles are in the U.S. and about 300,000 elsewhere.
In another GM action, the car maker is recalling about 18,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans from the 2003 model year so that dealers can replace any wheel bearing assembly that lacks a retaining nut.
Without the nut, the bearing could separate from its proper position. Then the antilock brake system would be disabled, the vehicle would slow down and it would pull in the direction of the damaged wheel, NHTSA said.
Safety officials probe Windstar stud failures
WASHINGTON-Federal safety officials are expanding an investigation of Ford Motor Co.'s Windstar minivans to determine why wheel-mounting studs are breaking at an unusually high rate.
The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) covers the 1997-2000 model years. If a defect is found, the agency estimates that Ford will have to recall as many as 1 million vehicles.
NHTSA and the auto maker have collected 123 complaints about broken studs. In 69 cases, the wheels came off vehicles. The complaints include 11 reported crashes with five injuries, NHTSA said.
After obtaining warranty claims and other records, NHTSA said it found nearly 1,500 other incidents that could be linked to this alleged defect. It upgraded its investigation from what is called a preliminary evaluation to the next level: an engineering analysis. It took this action after Ford reported that it has been unable to determine the problem's cause.
The Valvoline Co. of Lexington, Ky., signed a comprehensive preferred supplier agreement with Rochester, N.Y.-based Monro Muffler Brake Inc. to put Valvoline-branded products in Monro's 550 company-operated auto service outlets throughout the East and Midwest.
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Southfield, Mich.-based Federal-Mogul Corp. is offering a Champion 500 promotion, through Oct. 31, enabling technicians to earn points toward five reward levels.
To earn points, techs must install either premium Champion Double Platinum or Platinum Power spark plugs on any vehicle, then save and redeem end tabs from the spark plug boxes along with a Champion 500 redemption form. According to Federal-Mogul, it has expanded the line of Double Platinum plugs to cover nearly 300 additional late-model General Motors Corp. passenger car and light truck models.
For more information, contact a Champion spark plug supplier or call the program headquarters toll-free at (800) 697-3991.
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The Automotive Service Association recently redesigned its Web site, which the group said now includes ``a reorganized format, innovative functionality and interactive content that provides a gateway for ASA members, industry professionals and consumers alike.''
The site, accessible via www.asashop.org, features an ASA repair shop locator, employment classified ads section, new graphics, a membership benefits section with interactive forms, an improved search engine, and sections such as automotive tips, related links, legislation, ASA events and division newsletters.