GM Telling Pontiac, Saab Owners Not to Allow Front Riders

General Motors Co. plans to warn some owners of Pontiac Vibe and Saab 9-2X hatchbacks not to allow front-seat passengers until defective air bags are replaced.

The overnight letters will go out “as soon as possible” and the owner group may grow, Alan Adler, a spokesman for Detroit-based GM, said yesterday by e-mail. The largest U.S. automaker and Toyota Motor Corp. jointly built the Vibe at a factory in California. The Saab models were built by Subaru.

“We are treating this urgently,” Adler said.

Of the 85,000 people who own 2003 and 2004 Vibes, those living in high-humidity areas, including South Florida, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Guam, will receive the letters. GM doesn’t yet have a precise tally of owners in those climates, Adler said.

The U.S. issued an urgent public warning that cars with components made by Takata Corp. that are exposed to high humidity may deploy air bags with so much force a metal part could rupture and strike occupants. Toyota has already advised owners of more than 875,000 vehicles to keep passengers out of the front seats until repairs are made.

The website of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was overwhelmed yesterday and couldn’t be fully accessed after the safety regulators urged 4.7 million people to check to see if their cars have defective air bags.

In addition to the Toyotas, some Honda Motor Co., Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Nissan Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. vehicles are affected by the safety warning.

Kelli Felker, a Ford Motor Co. spokeswoman, said there are no plans “at this point” to offer a similar warning to owners of three models that were the subject of a June 19, 2014, service bulletin to replace both front air bags. That bulletin covered the 2004 Ford Ranger pickup, 2005-06 GT sports car and 2005-07 Mustang, affecting about 58,669 vehicles, according to the Center for Auto Safety. Ford’s vehicles aren’t the subject of a recall.

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