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Millions of cars could be affected by faulty fuel part, gas leaks

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating how many cars may be affected by a German company's faulty fuel tank flanges. The flanges have been shown to crack, letting fuel leak and risking fire. Audi and Porsche have already recalled some half a million vehicles due to the defect. Unfortunately, the parts supplier Continental Automotive GmbH supplied the flanges to General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Jaguar-Land Rover, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz, McLaren and possibly Volvo, as well as other auto part suppliers.

Continental has filed papers, which were posted on Friday by NHTSA, indicating that the flanges might be defective. According to the company, the flanges are made of industry standard polymer and no fires have actually been reported. The company has not yet determined what causes the flanges to crack, but it seems likely environmental factors cause degradation.

Causing some additional confusion is the fact that each automaker uses the flanges differently, and the part numbers vary. This is why the total number of affected vehicles is unclear.

NHTSA is now seeking information from other carmakers "in order to determine whether any additional vehicles may have the same defect as identified by VW and Porsche, and whether additional safety recalls are required by those identified companies."

According to a spokesperson for Continental, each automaker is responsible for determining if there is an issue and, if there is, issuing its own recall. "Our filing is signaling that basically there's a potential defect and here's who we sold it to," she commented.

Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi initiated recalls in September

Volkswagen, along with its brands Audi and Porsche, have instituted recalls that ran from September of last year to March 2017. None of the paperwork mentions an actual fire, but drivers have reported smelling gasoline.

Although that recall is technically over, drivers should still have their vehicles inspected for damage or cracks in the flange and have any defects repaired. A dealership may still be willing to do the work on a warranty or recall basis.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident and you suspect a faulty auto part may have been responsible, we urge you to reach out to an attorney experienced in product liability law.

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