Amidst the excitement surrounding the Chicago Auto Show, there is more mundane news: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is recalling 32,291 Suzuki Vitara SUVs and SX4 vehicles.
Affected vehicles fall into four categories: 2009-10 Suzuki Grand Vitaras with a four cylinder engines, 2011 Grand Vitaras produced before October 17, 2010, 2010 Suzuki SX4s and 2011 Suzuki SX4s produced before October 14, 2010. Kicking Tires reports that NHTSA red flagged these vehicles “over an improperly manufactured drive belt component that can break and cause the drive belt to slip or come off."
NHTSA explains the problem in greater detail. “The tension adjuster pulley for the drive belt that operates the alternator, water pump, air conditioner, compressor and power steering pump, has an improperly manufactured internal spring that can break due to repeated stress.” If the spring breaks, drivers may experience a number of issues: the detached drive belt may cause the driver to steer the vehicle more, squeaking noises, increased coolant temperature which can cause the engine to overheat or cause the charging light to come on, which can cause battery discharge and engine stall. NHSTA adds, “If the drive belt comes off, requiring the driver to use increased steering effort, or the engine stalls, a vehicle crash could occur.”
As of yet, there are no reported of accidents or injuries that have resulted from the problematic drive belt.
The recall will begin on or before February 16, 2011, and dealers will replace the tension adjuster pulley for free. In the mean time, owners may contact Suzuki at 1-887-697-8985, or they can reach NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.