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By HARRY STOFFER | Automotive News

WASHINGTON - Federal safety officials are investigating 2003 Mazda6 cars to see whether their fuel tanks are prone to leak.

Workers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found a leak in June while preparing a Mazda6 for a crash test.

In response, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has begun an investigation to determine whether other Mazda6 cars have the same problem.

The institute, a safety research organization for auto insurers, discovered the leak where the hole had been bored for the fuel outlet.

Mazda North American Operations Inc. told NHTSA that it changed a manufacturing process after being informed of the leak. But the company does not believe cars already in service need to be recalled and repaired, NHTSA records show.

If NHTSA investigators find evidence of a defect, as many as 57,000 cars could be recalled.
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