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Published: Thursday, 12/16/2010

Chrysler, VW recall 780,000 vehicles

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Chrysler Group LLC and Volkswagen AG issued recall notices Wednesday that together affect 780,000 vehicles.

Chrysler is recalling more than 367,000 minivans because of the risk that a water leak in the air conditioning system could trigger the airbags, risking injury to passengers. The company said it had received reports of five minor injuries related to the problem. Four of the injuries happened last summer.

The recall affects 367,350 2008 model-year Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans. It follows a recall this week by the automaker of just more than 76,000 Dodge Ram trucks to fix a brake-related defect.

Chrysler said it had become aware of the complaints that water was leaking into the carpet of the minivans in 2008 and determined then that some were built with an improperly installed part in the heating-and-cooling system.

"At the time, Chrysler had no reason to believe that this moisture had any safety consequences," the automaker said in a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Chrysler said it only realized the leak was a safety threat after it investigated a spike in complaints about airbags inflating without warning in the vehicles between July and September of this year. The company said it would begin notifying owners of the recall in February.

Volkswagen said it would recall more than 413,000 cars in the United States and Canada for the risk they could develop fuel leaks and potentially catch fire. It covers the Golf, Rabbit, Jetta, and Jetta Sportwagen models from the 2007 to 2009 model years as well as the New Beetle from the 2006 to 2010 model years. Of the total, 377,000 of the cars are being recalled in the United States with the remainder in Canada, VW said.

The automaker said the Golf, Rabbit, and Jetta models have a plastic tab on the windshield fluid container that could rub against a fuel line and cause a leak to develop. In the case of the New Beetle, a fastening clamp that is part of the power steering system could cause the same kind of problem, the automaker said. All vehicles are manufactured in Mexico.

VW said it had not received any reports of fires, injuries, or crashes related to the condition. Owners will be notified of the recall in January.



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