GM recalls nearly 1.5 million vehicles

Automaker issues recall of passenger sedans due to engine fire risk.

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(CNN) -- The possibility of engine fires has prompted General Motors to recall nearly 1.5 million passenger sedans manufactured between 1997 and 2003, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced Monday.

The recall covers certain mid- and full-size passenger sedans under GM's (GM, Fortune 500) Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac brands.

The recalled vehicles all have naturally aspirated 3.8 liter V6 engines -- that is, engines that uses atmospheric pressure to bring in air for combustion rather than a mechanical blower -- according to documents filed with federal regulators by GM last week.

On Friday, the federal government acknowledged the filing and agreed to the plan.

The problem involves a potential for oil to leak on the exhaust manifold during hard braking. When a car operates under normal conditions, the manifold can get very hot. Oil that runs below the manifold's heat shield could ignite and spread to plastic channels that hold spark plug wires.

The company recommends as a solution for the problem a change in the bracket that holds spark-plug wires, which will be done free of charge. Owners and dealers affected by the new recall will be notified by letter next month with details.

The vehicles involved are 1997-2003 Buick Regals; 1998-2003 Chevrolet Luminas, Monte Carlos and Impalas; 1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigues; and 1997-2003 Pontiac Grand Prix.

GM issued a similar recall on a similar engine in 2008, according to the company's filing with the government. That problem was traced to a faulty gasket on the engine rocker cover. To top of page

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