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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is intensifying its investigation into whether General Motors should have recalled about 551,000 vehicles instead of 8,000 for a brake light problem, according to a report posted on the agency’s Web site. It is the third time this year N.H.T.S.A. has challenged the adequacy of G.M. recalls.

In February, N.H.T.S.A. began what is called a recall query, which was basically a challenge to the adequacy of a recall. The agency said it was prompted by receiving 212 complaints about brake light problems from owners of 2005-8 Pontiac G6s. The recall in 2009 covered only 2005-6 models.

The safety agency now says it has received 314 complaints and G.M. has admitted that it has received 1,104 complaints, in addition to about 14,400 “potentially related warranty claims.” There was also one complaint of a crash, although it did not result in an injury. Accordingly, the agency is upgrading the investigation to an engineering analysis. That will more than likely – albeit not certainly – result in a recall.

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