Agency Looks Into Possible Acceleration Problem in 2007 Dodge Caliber

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun investigating complaints from owners of 2007 Dodge Calibers about sticking gas pedals made by the CTS Corporation of Elkhart, Ind., the company that also produced the pedals used on about 2.3 million Toyotas that were recalled this year because of unintended acceleration problems.

CTS had no comment on the Caliber investigation, but previously had said its pedals were not the cause of the Toyota problems.

The safety agency became interested after receiving five complaints from Caliber owners “alleging the accelerator pedal became stuck while they were driving their vehicles.” The agency added, “When the pedal was released it did not return to the idle position.”

There was no mention of any accidents.

The agency’s preliminary evaluation covers about 161,000 vehicles. If the agency finds reason for concern, the agency would upgrade it to a more serious engineering analysis. That would move it much closer to a recall.

In an e-mail message, Mike Palese, a Chrysler spokesman, said the problem appears to affect only a small number of vehicles built during five weeks in March and April of 2006. He said CTS was the supplier.

“It appears to be a supplier manufacturing concern, which is mechanical in nature and not a design or electronic issue,” he wrote.

He also said the Caliber “is equipped with a brake override system.” He added: “If a disagreement occurs between the throttle and the brake, the engine controller will reduce power, allowing the operator to stop the car.”

However, one owner who complained to N.H.T.S.A. said that the so-called smart gas pedal did not help.

“While driving 55 miles per hour, the accelerator pedal snapped and went underneath the brake pedal when it was depressed. As a result, the brake pedal could not be depressed. The vehicle was pulled off the road and the emergency brake was applied in order to stop the vehicle,” the owner wrote to the agency.

CTS also supplies other automakers, including Honda.