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Published: Tuesday, 6/18/2013

U.S. safety agency investigating Suzuki small SUVs

Air bag sensors viewed as problem in 205,000 vehicles


DETROIT — U.S. safety regulators said Tuesday that they are investigating problems with air-bag sensors in the seats of some small Suzuki SUVs.

The probe covers 205,000 vehicles including Grand Vitaras from the 2006 through 2011 model years and SX4s from 2007 through 2011.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site that 128 owners have complained about problems with sensors in the front passenger seats that should turn off the air bag when a child is sitting there.

In some cases, the sensors won’t detect a child and air bags will inflate. If that happens, a child could be hurt. In other cases, warning lights go off because of software problems.

Investigators will check to see if the problems are bad enough to require a recall.

The safety agency hasn’t received any complaints of crashes or injuries.

Lee Raines, director of automotive service for American Suzuki Motor Corp., said Tuesday that the company is cooperating with NHTSA. “The biggest thing is we want to take care of our customers,” he said.

American Suzuki filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November and said it would stop selling automobiles in the U.S. as part of a plan to restructure its business.

Raines said any customer who has a concern should immediately take their vehicle to the nearest Suzuki dealer, where the SUVs will be checked and repaired if necessary. The bankruptcy filing won’t affect the repairs, he said.

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