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NHTSA looks into Saturn Aura transmission problems

Consumer Reports News: November 14, 2011 04:38 PM

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Engineers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are taking a closer look at possible transmission issues with 2007 and 2008 Saturn Aura. The federal safety agency says it has received an increasing number of consumer complaints where the car fails to shift into the proper gear or, worse still, fails to remain stopped when "Park" is selected.

NHTSA first began investigating the transmission issues in 2007 Saturn Aura sedans last May.

According to the NHTSA Office of Defect Investigation (ODI) and General Motors, the issue may involve the jacket covering the transmission shifter cable wearing out prematurely. Without proper protection, the metal wires inside the cable may deteriorate and prevent the transmission from shifting into the gear selected by the driver.

The federal safety agency has received more than 100 reports of such transmission shifting failures; seven reports involved collisions. In one instance, an Aura rolled forward and struck a building after a driver believed the car was set in Park. In another similar incident, a driver was struck by an Aura moving in reverse even though the driver claims to have selected the Park gear.

GM believes that the issue affects only 2007 Saturn Auras installed with four-speed transmissions. However, the administration's Office of Defect Investigation says it expanding its probe to include 2008 model year Auras, including the Aura Hybrid. In all, some 89,000 Saturn Auras may be affected, should NHTSA's ODI determine a recall is necessary. According to NHTSA, GM has noted that similar cable installations are used in other GM vehicles, namely the 2004-2008 Chevrolet Malibu and 2005-2008 Pontiac G6.

GM is working with the NHTSA to determine the nature and extent of the possible issues. It also announced that the company will extend the warranty on 2007 and some 2008 Saturn Auras to include free repairs.

ODI investigates 2007-2008 Saturn Aura transmission - Campaign ID #: EA11015 [NHTSA ODI]
Safety Regulators Intensify Saturn Aura Investigation [Wall Street Journal]

Paul Eng

   

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