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GM Recalling 1.8 Million Cars

General Motors Corp. said Friday it is recalling 1.8 million cars to repair potential problems with the ignition switch that may cause a fire.

The models involved are certain 1998-2001 Chevrolet Cavaliers and Pontiac Sunfires built between March 1997 and April 2001. In addition, some 1998 Pontiac Grand Am, Oldsmobile Achieva, and Buick Skylark cars built between March 1997 and January 1998 are being recalled.

Of the total, 1.4 million of the vehicles are in the United States and 337,000 are in Canada. The remaining vehicles are outside these countries.

The vehicles are to be serviced to prevent high electrical current flow through the ignition switch that may cause a fire in the steering column.

The automaker said there have been reports of 80 incidents of heat build up, melted components smoldering parts, or fires in the ignition system and steering column with no injuries or fatalities reported.

Most of the incidents occurred within minutes of an unsuccessful attempt to start the car, GM said.

In some of the vehicles, the ignition switch may deteriorate if the battery is weak, the engine fails to crank, and the driver holds the key in the "start" position for an extended period.

Due to the number of vehicles involved in the recall, the repair process will occur in three phases.

Beginning in early March, GM will begin notifying owners of the 1998-99 vehicles involved. They will be instructed to contact their dealers as soon as they get the letter. The owners of 2000 model year vehicles will be notified in May, asking them to contact dealers in May to arrange a service date, and the owners of 2001 model year vehicles will be contacted in June with service instructions for that month.

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