Pontiac GTO Tyre Defect Claim Rejected
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ended an investigation into allegations of a safety defect on the Pontiac GTO, built by Holden. The alleged fault involved the clearance between the front tyres and the suspension components. NHTSA said it could not find a safety defect and was closing its investigation. However, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, the investigator said it appeared there was a problem with the suspension settings on many cars.
Despite the US government closing the issue, General Motors still faces a class-action suit filed in California on behalf of owners of 2004 and 2005 model year GTOs, which the suit contends are prone to tyre failure due to the alleged suspension problem. The company denies any defect.
The NHTSA report says GM claimed there were two reasons for premature wear of the front tyres – a problem that lead to hundreds of complaints by owners. Incorrect negative camber was one suggested reason given for customers experiencing excessively rapid tyre wear. The second source of trouble could be the owner using other tyres or wheels, GM told the government.
Investigators said they reviewed 1400 cases and found nine cases in which air was lost from tyres, with five of those being slow leaks. The agency said it could find no evidence of a safety defect.
The lawsuit against GM contends the company fitted export models with 245mm-wide tyres instead of the 235mm examples used on the Monaro’s 17-inch wheels. The suit claims this eliminated the necessary clearance, allowing the struts to “graze” the tyres even during normal driving, making them “unfit for ordinary use.”