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Two Automakers Announce Recalls

Two major automakers have announced recalls. DaimlerChrysler AG is recalling 701,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks in 21 "salt belt" states because a spring on a hood latch can corrode and cause the hood to fly up unexpectedly.

In a separate action, Ford Motor Co. is recalling 153,862 Mercury Cougars.

The Dodge recall involves 1994 through 1999 models registered in states where there is a lot of salt on the roads, either from the ocean or because of efforts to remove ice from the roads.

The states include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri.

DaimlerChrysler spokesman Dominick Infante said the automaker would begin notifying owners of the recall this week. He said the problem does not involve the primary latch that usually holds the hood down, but the secondary latch that catches the hood when it is opened and keeps it from flying up.

"As long as you properly latch your hood, it's not a safety concern for you, but we do want you to come in and have it changed," he said.

The automaker also is recalling 1994 through 1996 Rams with diesel engines in all states. The throttle cable could fray or break, resulting in a loss of throttle control.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the recalls, publishing a list of recalls reported by automakers in February.

The Ford recall of Mercury Cougars involves certain 1999-2000 models with 2.5-liter V6 engines. The battery cable in these vehicles may have been improperly assembled and could cause a fire or stalling or keep them from starting.

Ford spokesman Mike Vaughn said the company became aware of the problem because of an increase in warranty claims, many of which reported fires. He said that no injuries were reported.

For all the recalls, dealers will examine the vehicles and make free repairs.

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