Detroit • Engine fires are forcing General Motors to recall the Chevy Cruze, a popular model that has helped GM win back small-car buyers, while Ford and Chrysler are facing probes by federal safety regulators into two of their more popular brands.
The GM recall covers 475,000 vehicles made in the U.S. from September 2010 through May 2012.
The fires can break out when fluids drip onto a hot plastic shield below the engine. The problem occurs mainly when oil is spilled and not properly cleaned up during changes, General Motors said Friday.
The company knows of 30 fires caused by the problem, but no injuries have been reported, spokesman Alan Adler said. Flames engulfed and destroyed cars in two cases reported to federal safety officials.
GM will notify Cruze owners about when to bring their cars to local dealers for repairs, which are free and should take about 30 minutes. Dealers will fix the problem by cutting the plastic shield to let the fluids drain to the pavement, GM said. Recall work is scheduled to start July 11.
Federal safety regulators also are investigating complaints about engines stalling in some Chrysler 200 midsized sedans.
The probe includes about 87,000 of the cars from the 2011 model year that have 3.6-liter V-6 engines.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that it has received 15 complaints that the engines stall without warning while coasting to a stop.
NHTSA hasn't received any reports of crashes or injuries, the agency said. Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne says the company is working with the government. Owners who suspect problems with their 200s should take them to dealers for testing.
And federal safety regulators are investigating complaints that the power steering can fail on 2011 Ford Explorer SUVs.
Fifteen drivers have complained that the popular Explorer can suddenly lose its power steering assist, making it harder to steer.
The problem could affect 83,000 Explorers. No crashes or injuries have been reported.
Anyone who has a concern about their vehicle should contact their dealer, Ford spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel said.