WASHINGTON - Ford Motor Co. is recalling 23,000 1996 and 1997 Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport-utilities to fix a problem that may occur in extreme winter weather.
Notices are going to vehicle owners in 15 cold-weather states because of reports that throttles can freeze if the vehicles are operated in extremely low temperatures at highway speeds for extended periods, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in its monthly list of voluntary safety recalls.
As a remedy, dealers are to install a revised crankcase ventilation system with a water-heated vacuum source, the agency said.
Ford has had a rash of recalls tied to winter operating conditions. In March, the company said it would recall 138,000 1992-95 Tempo, Topaz, Taurus, Sable and Continental models for cooling fans that may freeze in severe winter weather, creating the danger of wiring fires. Ford also is recalling 213,000 1991-95 Taurus, Sable and Continental models to fix speed-control cables that can collect water and freeze.
In other recalls made public this month, NHTSA said 58,000 diesel-powered 1995-96 Dodge Ram pickups are prone to engine oil leaking into vacuum hoses, which in turn can deteriorate and collapse. The result is possible loss of the vacuum boost for brakes.
Dealers are to add a vacuum pump check valve to each truck and install oil-resistant vacuum hoses.
Elsewhere, General Motors dealers will install protective covers on under-hood fuse boxes of some 1997 Buick Skylarks, Oldsmobile Achievas and Pontiac Grand Ams.
The covers were left off as many as 3,500 cars assembled last December and January, NHTSA said. Without the cover, electrical arcing between a fuse terminal and a battery cable can occur, creating a fire hazard.
Another GM recall affects older models.
NHTSA said more than 675,000 vehicles, some nearly a decade old, are to be taken to dealers for replacement of rear cradle bolts on the front subframe.
Because of corrosion, the bolts can pull from their retainers. If the cradle breaks free, the steering shaft could separate from the steering gear, NHTSA said.
The affected years and models include 1988-91 Buick Regals, Oldsmobile Cutlasses and Pontiac Grand Prixs. Also involved are 1990-91 Chevrolet Luminas and Lumina APVs, Oldsmobile Silhouettes and Pontiac Trans Sports.
Another corrosion-related recall, this one by Nissan Motor Corp. U.S.A., covers 85,000 1991-96 Infiniti G20 models. NHTSA said fuel filler tubes can deteriorate, especially in areas where road salt is used, and fuel may leak. Dealers are to inspect filler tube assemblies and replace parts as needed.
The monthly recall list included a spate of seat belt-related fixes. They were as follows:
1995 CHEVROLET LUMINA, MONTE CARLO; BUICK REGAL; OLDSMOBILE CUTLASS; PONTIAC GRAND PRIX
Problem: Stress cracks in center rear seat belt anchor plates.
Fix: Dealers will replace center rear seat belt system.
How many: 51,000
1996-97 GMC SAFARI, CHEVROLET ASTRO VANS
Problem: Outboard seat belt webbing on right rear bucket seat may separate in a crash.
Fix: Dealers will install protector on seat cushion frame.
How many: 19,000
1991-92 NISSAN NX, INFINITI G20
Problem: Rear seat belt release button connections fail, causing latches to only partly engage.
Fix: Replace seat belt buckles.
1992-93 MITSUBISHI EXPO, EXPO LRV, MIRAGE
Problem: Excess lubricant in door latch prevents automatic shoulder belt anchorage from moving back from A-pillar to proper operating position.
Fix: Replace door latch switch.
How many: 39,000
1993 MITSUBISHI MIRAGE
Problem: Automatic shoulder belt guide rail cable on driver's side wears and drops down, causing belt anchorage to stick out of operating position.
Fix: Replace guide rail.
How many: 15,400
The monthly list also included the following recalls:
1993-96 JEEP CHEROKEE
Problem: Weld missing from steering gear attachment reinforcement at the frame rail.
Fix: Add weld or install reinforcement plates to frame rail.
How many: 2,500
1997 DODGE CARAVAN and PLYMOUTH VOYAGER
Problem: Steel wheels damaged by tire-mounting equipment.
Fix: Dealers will replace wheels.
How many: 60
Problem: Ignition key can be removed from car while it is running, a violation of a federal safety standard on deterring theft.
Fix: Recode ignition switches.
How many: 319
1997 CHEVROLET, GMC VANS
Problem: Vans equipped with the 6.5-liter turbo diesel engine may have a left-front brake pipe that can be damaged by contact with oil cooler hose.
Fix: Install bracket on oil cooler hose, replace damaged brake pipes.
How many: 8