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Group wants minivan recall after gas leak

Auto safety advocates want DaimlerChrysler Corp. to recall about 400,000 minivans after a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan leaked fuel during a crash test.

DaimlerChrysler has redesigned the fuel systems of its minivans in response to the test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety but says no recall is necessary to replace vehicles with the old design.

"There should never be fuel leakage in a crash," said Joan Claybrook, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, which is asking for a recall.

Brian O'Neill, president of the Insurance Institute, said any fuel leak can be a serious problem because of the threat of fire.

O'Neill said only one other vehicle, the Isuzu Trooper, has ever leaked fuel during a crash test by his organization. Isuzu Motors Ltd. recalled 2000 models and some 2001 vehicles after that test.

"We are not claiming that you are going to get fuel spillage in every crash of a Chrysler minivan," O'Neill said. "On the other hand, we think we have found an issue that needs to be addressed."

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety gave the Grand Caravan its lowest safety rating because of the leak. The institute also gave a poor rating to the 2001 Hyundai Elantra after its air bag deployed late.

DaimlerChrysler spokesman Dominick Infante called the latest test result a freak occurrence and said the company believes the vans are safe.

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