Fuel and fire scares prompt car recall

Two of the world's biggest car manufacturers have been forced into massive recall programmes following scares over fuel hose leakage and fire hazard from a potential fuel tank fault.

General Motor's UK offshoot, Vauxhall, has recalled 12,607 of its Omega cars to have a fuel hose in the engine compartment checked and clamped.

The cars involved in the recall, the 2.Oi, have all been produced since the start of output in February last year, with chassis numbers ranging from R1000001 to S1155206.

The company said in a statement that a series of checks on the hose at the Vauxhall/Opel Technical Development Centre in Germany revealed that, in some cases, the outer covering of the fuel hose could chafe at one point.

The tests indicated that over a longer period the problem could cause the outer coverings of the hose to wear through.

Vauxhall said it had had no reports of any related problems in the UK so far. The company advised drivers that they should continue to use their vehicles, but seek help from their local dealers should they suspect a problem at any time.

In a separate incident in the US, the US motor manufacturer Ford, due to report its figures for 1994 tomorrow, has had to recall a large number of its cars because of the potential threat of unrelated faults in several models, causing fires to break out.

The company has recalled 112,000 cars because of a potential fuel tank fault.

All the models affected have been produced since January this year and include the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and the Lincoln Town Cars.

In a statement Ford said it has already received up to 15 reports of fuel odour or seepage, but had not yet heard of any reported incidents of fire or injury.

Approximately 3,900 of the 112,000 cars involved in this action have been located as being sold in Canada.

Owners are being asked to return their cars immediately so that dealers can fit a new fuel tank seal free of charge.

Ford is also having to recall up to 61,0001994 Mustang GT coupes to correct another potential electrical fire hazard involving the car's power front seat wiring harnesses.

Meanwhile, US Commerce Secretary, Ron Brown, said he was ''hopeful'' about the current trade talks with Japan on cars and car parts. Although, they were not yet close to a breakthrough, Mr Brown said: "We look forward to making progress in the framework discussions on autos and auto parts; we certainly need progress."

He said the $60 billion U.S. trade deficit with Japan is "unacceptable."

Car and car parts account for two-thirds of that deficit. US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor and International Trade and Industry Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto are to hold high-level talks tomorrow. ''Our goal is to have an agreement, to have a good agreement," Mr Brown said.