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Ford Crown Victoria, Porsche 911, Dodge Viper probed by NHTSA

(Reuters) - Older model Ford Crown Victoria police cars, Porsche 911 and Dodge Viper sports cars are the focus of three separate defect investigations by safety regulators, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Tuesday.

Defect investigations by NHTSA are not recalls, but sometimes lead to them.

NHTSA has opened an investigation into model year 2005 to 2008 Ford Motor Co Crown Victoria police models for a potential steering issue. A connection between upper and lower shafts of the steering column may have failed, causing separation of the shafts, NHTSA said.

There are 195,000 vehicles involved, many of them in fleets of police vehicles around the United States.

There have been 15 warranty claims or reports to the federal agency, for an incident rate of about eight per 100,000 vehicles, according to papers filed by NHTSA.

There are about 10,000 Porsche 911 models equipped with GTI engines from model years 2001 to 2007 involved in an investigation by NHTSA on possible failure of a cooling hose fitting.

A loose hose can cause rapid loss of coolant without warning, which could disable the vehicle and cause a slick on the road that could affect following traffic.

There were 10 complaints by Porsche owners with the federal agency. One of the complaints claims that spilled coolant caused loss of rear tire traction, leading to a spin-out by the Porsche 911 that ended up off the road it was traveling on.

No injuries were reported in the incidents reported to NHTSA.

Porsche is part of Volkswagen AG.

Model year 2005 and 2006 Dodge Vipers made by Chrysler are being investigated for possible failure of the rear suspension knuckle after two complaints were filed with the federal agency that resulted in crashes.

An estimated 2,500 of the sports cars in the United States are involved in the investigation.

One of the crashes resulted in an injury, NHTSA said.

Chrysler Group LLC is a unit of Italy's Fiat SpA.

In all three cases, the investigations were opened to discover the scope, frequency and safety-related consequence of the alleged defects, NHTSA said.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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