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NHTSA investigating faulty auto parts linked to gas leaks

As many as a million cars and trucks could be affected by faulty gas tank flanges that crack and pose a risk for engine fire, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. No actual fires have apparently been reported, although some paperwork indicates that drivers have smelled gasoline before the defect was discovered.

German car parts supplier named Continental Automotive GmbH has just filed papers indicating that there is an issue and listing automakers that may have purchased the parts:

  • Volkswagen
  • Porsche
  • Audi
  • Ford
  • General Motors
  • Fiat Chrysler
  • Lamborghini
  • Jaguar-Land Rover
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • McLaren
  • Volvo

The papers, which were posted on the NHTSA website on Friday, also list five auto part suppliers. Volvo denies having purchased fuel tank flanges from Continental and believes it was mistakenly included on the list.

VW and its associated brands Porsche and Audi instituted four recalls for the problem in September 2016, but those recalls ran out in March. Now, NHTSA has initiated an investigation into how many other automakers are affected.

According to a spokesperson for Continental, it is each carmaker that will be required to analyze the situation and determine whether to initiate any additional recalls.

"Our filing is signaling that basically there's a potential defect and here's who we sold it to," she added.

Complicating the analysis are the facts that each manufacturer uses the potentially faulty flange in a slightly different way, and that the car part numbers vary. Continental concedes that the number of additional cars and trucks affected by the recall could reach a million -- but there may be no more, if the carmakers find no problems.

The company isn't sure what causes the cracks in the defective flanges. They suspect environmental factors may break down the polymer, which the company says is industry standard.

If your car or truck shows signs of cracking around the fuel tank, or if you suspect a defective auto part has caused a crash, we urge you to reach out to a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in product liability law.

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