DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. is recalling 207,542 Buick Regal and Pontiac Grand Prix sedans over a risk they could catch fire, and warned their owners not to park the cars in garages until they are fixed.
The automaker said Friday it is recalling the 1997-2003 Buick Regal GS and Grand Prix GDP models with 3.8-liter supercharged V-6 engines.
During hard braking, oil can leak from the engine onto the exhaust manifold, and fires can start if the oil gets hot enough, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site.
GM spokeswoman Carolyn Markey said the problem has caused 267 vehicle fires and six injuries, five of them minor and one moderate. It also has caused 17 fires in structures, GM said.
The NHTSA said that if the exhaust manifold is hot enough and the oil gets below a heat shield, "it may ignite into a small flame and in some cases fire may spread to the plastic spark plug wire channel."
Markey said GM sent letters to the owners on Thursday telling them the vehicles are safe to drive, but they should not be parked in garages or carports until the problem is repaired.
The automaker is working with suppliers to get the parts to fix the problem, and owners will be notified as soon as the parts are available, Markey said. She did not know how long it would take to get the parts but said it would be soon.
If owners smell burning, they should take their car to a dealership for inspection, she said.
"Consumers can always can go to their dealership if they do smell something and are concerned," she said.
They also should run premium 91 octane fuel, which is recommended for the cars, she said.
"Lower octane fuel increases under-hood temperatures during operation," Markey said.
Markey said there are "very, very low incidences of vehicles actually catching fire while driving."
GM shares fell 38 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $19.93 in morning trading Friday.