Saturday, May 27, 2006

Corvette tops flying off, leading to recall

Saturday, May 27, 2006
Corvette tops flying off, leading to recall

Brett Clanton / The Detroit News

General Motors Corp. is giving new meaning to the term "drop top."

The automaker is recalling more than 30,000 Corvettes because of a defect that causes the roof of the pricey sports car to fly off while driving. GM discovered the problem last year, and asked customers to have the problem fixed at dealerships.

But after 21 complaints were filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and GM learned the glitch also affected 2006 models, the company issued a formal recall Friday.

It affects 2005 and 2006 Corvette models that have painted, removable hard tops, which come on about 40 percent of the $45,000 sport coupes.

The recall is embarrassing for GM, which prizes the Corvette as one of its best engineered and designed vehicles.

The Corvette's hard top is comprised of a magnesium frame and hard plastic roof panel and weighs between 5 and 10 pounds. The roof panel has blown off when adhesive that attaches the roof to a frame separates, GM spokesman Alan Adler said.

No one has been injured or killed as a result of the glitch, he said.

While GM should be commended for issuing a recall, highway safety advocate Clarence Ditlow worries the defect could be deadly if it is not fixed quickly.

"Every year, road debris kills a significant but unknown number of people," said Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Automotive Safety in Washington.

A flying roof panel, he said, could pose an especially grave threat to drivers. "You do not want to hit a 10 lb. object at 70 miles per hour."

Also Friday, Germany's Volkswagen AG said it will recall 362,000 Jetta sedans and Beetles because of a faulty brake light switch.

The flaw -- affecting 1999 to 2002 Jetta models, 1999 to 2000 Jetta III models and 1998 to 2002 Beetles -- may cause the vehicles' brake lights not to work or to remain on.

You can reach Brett Clanton at (313) 222-2612 or


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