WASHINGTON - Lexus Division is recalling 15,000 of its 1998 sedans because electromagnetic waves, such as those from cellular phones, may interfere with the cars' stability control system.
The recall appears to be the first proven case of electronic interference with vehicle controls, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials.
Previously, NHTSA investigated other claims that electromagnetic fields caused rapid acceleration incidents or contributed to antilock brake malfunctions, but it never found proof of those claims, spokesman Tim Hurd said.
In the 1970s the agency found evidence of radio interference with early electronic engine controls, but no recalls occurred as a result, said Jon White, chief of NHTSA's recall analysis division.
Lexus engineers are not sure a problem exists, but found an apparently defective solder joint in the yaw rate sensor of the stability control system. The division decided to replace the sensor in GS 300 and GS 400 sedans, just to be sure, said division spokesman Mike Michels.
Yaw is the sideways motion of a vehicle in a spin. The control system, designed to sense when a vehicle is not going where it is being steered, automatically adjusts throttle and braking to compensate for driver error or weather conditions, Michels explained.
He said the division was alerted to a possible problem by reports in Japan and Europe of warning lights indicating system malfunction and by a complaint from a Japanese driver of control trouble.
Elsewhere, General Motors is recalling 55,000 of its 1997-98 minivans because a windshield wiper linkage can scrape a brake line attached to the traction control modulator valve.
NHTSA said the chafing could cause fluid leaks and reduced brake effectiveness. Dealers are to install a clip on the brake line to keep it clear of the wiper linkage and replace any damaged brake lines.
Affected models are the Chevrolet Venture, Oldsmobile Silhouette and Pontiac Trans Sport.
In its monthly compilation, NHTSA also described these recalls:
1998 DODGE RAM CLUB CAB, QUAD CAB PICKUPS
Problem: Front brake rotor cracks at hub; wheel can separate from truck.
Fix: Replace cracked rotors.
1998 DODGE RAM VANS, WAGONS
Problem: Power seat attachment welds on driver's side can break in a crash.
Fix: Replace mechanism that adjusts seat height.
1998 CHEVROLET C6, C7; GMC C6, C7 MEDIUM-DUTY TRUCKS
Problem: Brake control harness grounds out, shutting off ABS.
Fix: Reroute or replace harness.
1999 FORD SUPER DUTY TRUCK/MOTOR HOME CHASSIS
Problem: Water accumulates in accelerator cable, freezes in cold weather, prevents return to idle.
Fix: Replace cable.
1996 PORSCHE 911 CARRERA
Problem: Airbags deploy without a crash.
Fix: To be determined.
Number: To be determined.
1995 FERRARI F355
Problem: Fuel-injection line fittings with aluminum nuts break, leak.
Fix: Install lines with steel nuts.