More than 342,000 cars made by Mazda Motor Corp and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) are under investigation by the US auto safety regulator for possible steering defects that could lead to loss of vehicle control.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Friday it opened probes into 293,787 Mazda3 models produced from 2007 to last year, and 48,764 BMW Z4 sports cars from 2003 to 2005.
In both cases, the NHTSA is in the earliest stages of a formal review that could lead to recalls. The agency has stepped up its probes into possible vehicle defects after a massive safety crisis at Toyota Motor Corp led to the recall of more than 10 million vehicles worldwide.
The NHTSA said it received 33 complaints about Mazda3 models that alleged a loss of power steering assistance while driving, requiring excessive force by the driver to maintain control. Three of the complaints alleged that the loss of steering control caused crashes. The vehicle uses an electrically actuated hydraulic power steering system, the agency said.
On the BMW Z4s, the NHTSA said it received 107 complaints alleging a loss of power-assisted steering. The complaints stated that the steering wheel sticks, binds or locks up, requiring increased steering effort to maintain control and increasing the potential to over-steer the vehicle.
The failures typically occurred at higher vehicle speeds of more than 70kph and at warmer temperatures above 24ºC. One complaint involved a crash and several complaints reported loss of vehicle control or “near-miss incidents.”
There were no fatalities reported among the Mazda3 and BMW Z4 complaints, the agency said.
Meanwhile, Toyota said earlier on Friday it would recall 138,000 Lexus vehicles in the US to fix faulty engines in the latest quality problem to afflict the world’s largest automaker.
The Japanese automaker said flaws in valve springs, a crucial engine component, could make the vehicle stall while in motion.
The recall affects certain GS, IS and LS vehicles from the 2006 to 2008 model years powered by 4.6 and 5 liter V8 engines and 3.5 liter V6 engines. No accidents or injuries have been reported.
Vehicles from last year and this year are not affected.
Toyota had announced in Japan that it would recall 270,000 Lexus vehicles around the world to address the engine stalling problems.
The global recall affects seven luxury Lexus sedan models as well as the popular Crown sedan, sold primarily in Japan. Of the 270,000 recalled cars, some 180,000 were sold overseas, including the US, and 90,000 in Japan.
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