DETROIT -- The left rear wheel on two Saturn Vue SUVs collapsed during rollover tests, prompting U.S. safety regulators to open a defect investigation into the General Motors SUV, federal officials said Tuesday.
The collapse of the wheels, caused by a broken suspension, occurred last month while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a "dynamic rollover" test on two- and four-wheel-drive versions of the Vue. The suspensions failed during a sharp turn at 45 mph.
The federal agency said it had opened a "preliminary evaluation" of the SUV, a step that often precedes a recall.
"There's no plans to recall the vehicle at this time," GM spokesman Jim Schell said.
NHTSA said it had received one consumer complaint of a similar wheel collapse when the driver tried to recover after briefly driving off the road. The left rear wheel bent underneath the vehicle, resulting in a rollover, NHTSA said.
The investigation covers Vues from the 2002 to 2004 model years. The Vue has been the one bright spot in the Saturn lineup this year, with U.S. sales up 16.6 percent to 48,279 units in the first six months.
NHTSA has also upgraded a probe into Kia Motors Corp.'s 2001 model year Rio small car, after 30 reports of wheel fractures and three allegations of a wheel coming off the vehicle. Kia has paid 576 warranty claims for wheel replacements on the Rio, the U.S. agency said.
During a five-month period in 2000, wheels on the Rio were manufactured using a tool that could cause irregularities, which could result in cracks, NHTSA said.