Ford Motor Company is conducting a safety recall to inspect the intermediate steering-shaft yoke on certain '97 Ford F-150 and F-250 pickups and Ford Expeditions. In a small number of these trucks, the intermediate steering-shaft yoke was not properly installed, and the result ultimately may be a disconnection of the intermediate steering shaft from the steering gear. This is a high-mileage durability issue that may manifest itself into an eventual loss of steering.
About 185,000 trucks will be inspected in the recall. Ford anticipates that less than 1 percent of these vehicles will need repair. Steering shafts that are not fully seated will be replaced.
Ford and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified three alleged minor accidents with two alleged minor injuries during a joint investigation of the condition. Ford will begin sending letters to customers next week with instructions on when to take their vehicles to dealerships. Customers will not be charged for the repairs.
CORR Racing Receives Continued Support From The General
In a nod toward the popularity of stadium-style off-road racing, General Motors has announced that it will continue its sponsorship of the Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) series in 2003. The sponsorship will showcase GM's Hydra-Matic automatic transmissions that are used in many of the trucks in the Pro-2 and Pro-4 Series class.
"CORR offers an excellent opportunity for GM to promote Hydra-Matic transmissions because it is one of the premier American off-road truck race series," said Brian Shipman, GM powertrain Hydra-Matic marketing manager. "This sponsorship showcases GM as a world leader of automatic transmissions and the durability of our Hydra-Matic transmissions to withstand high horsepower engines and the intense stresses of off-road racing."
In addition to the CORR sponsorship, Hydra-Matic is offering a contingency program for qualified Pro-2 Series class winners. Cash awards for First, Second, and Third places will be presented at each race. An anticipated 225,000-plus spectators will attend the 14 CORR race events this year.
General Motors Builds Trucks To Meet Law-Enforcement Needs
The General is working with law-enforcement agencies to offer a stable of trucks that are able to meet the various rigors of police work. The Chevrolet Police Tahoe and a police version of the Hummer H1 are targeted for production in the third quarter of '04.
"We are proud of the relationship we have built with law-enforcement agencies across North America. We have a long-standing history supplying vehicles that meet law-enforcement requirements and are pleased that we can offer yet another solid GM product in the Chevrolet Police Tahoe to provide additional options and supplement our already strong lineup of law-enforcement vehicles," said Brian McVeigh, general manager of GM Fleet and commercial operations.
Chevrolet's Special Service Tahoe allows law enforcement an alternative vehicle for the various types of services that do not require high-speed driving, although utility, cargo room, and visibility are a must. It is available in either two- or four-wheel drive.
"Thanks to our close relationship with law-enforcement entities across the country and their continued feedback, we have been able to continuously provide fine-tuning to our products, which make them even more valuable to our customers by providing them the special enhancements they need to do their jobs safely and more easily," said Bruce Wiley, GM law-enforcement program manager.
The Hummer H1 Tactical Unit offers extreme off-road and tactical application for police, search, and rescue operations. Capable of negotiating 30 inches of water, climbing 22 inch ledges, and scaling extreme 60-percent inclines, declines, and 40-percent side slopes, the H1 provides law enforcement the ultimate in maneuverability regardless of terrain. Built to military specifications, the H1 can traverse severe weather conditions and rugged terrain carrying a full payload of 12,100 pounds.
"Since 9/11, the operating methodologies of police and fire municipalities have changed. They are looking at new and innovative ways to utilize police and emergency response vehicles, how to carry more equipment, expand communication capability, and address issues created by tactical and hazardous-material gear," said Wiley. "The Chevrolet Police Tahoe is capable of meeting the rigors of all these needs."
Chevy And GMC Offer 1/2-Ton Crew Cab Pickups In 2004
GM is finally offering 1/2-ton Crew Cabs for Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras. These new models combine the driver- and passenger-friendly features of light-duty trucks with the roomiest cab on a wheelbase length that gives owners more maneuverability as well as the potential to fit the vehicles in a garage. The '04 Silverado and Sierra Crew Cab's 5-foot 8-inch pickup beds allow the shorter wheelbase.
All have a standard Z85 handling and trailering package, and their performance, trailering, and hauling capabilities seem to be very competitive. The new models come with the potent Vortec 5300 V-8, with 285 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, backed by the Hydra-Matic 4L60-E four-speed automatic transmission as the standard powertrain. GVWRs are 6,800 pounds for 2WD and 7,000 pounds for 4WD, and the base payloads are rated at 1,934 pounds for 2WD and 1,825 pounds for 4WD. Trailer ratings as heavy as 8,500 pounds for 4WD models and 7,800 pounds for the 2WD models are available. The 1500 Series Crew Cabs are available as Silverado Fleetside LS and LT and Sierra Wideside SLE and SLT models. All come with a choice of two- or four-wheel-drive configurations.
Night Vision For The Masses
Well, At Least The Upper Middle Class Masses
Civilian Hummer H1 owners can now buy a night-vision system very close to the system used on military Humvees.
Raytheon Commercial Infared offers a $5,000 system, dubbed Nightdriver, that some Hummer dealerships offer as a dealer-installed option. General Motors already uses a Raytheon night vision system in the Cadillac DeVille. That unit sells for $2,750, so presumably it's not quite as effective as the one offered for the H1, and certainly not as good as the military-spec unit. You'll have to check French, Russian, or German sources for a gray market military-spec thermal imaging system.