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General Motors Orders Dealers to Stop Selling Chevy Cruzes

General Motors has told dealers in the U.S. and Canada to stop selling 2013 and 2014 Chevrolet Cruzes because of a potential defect in air bags made by beleaguered supplier Takata.

A stop-sale order is not a recall, but it could have an immediate impact on Cruze sales, at least in the final days of June. Introduced in 2009, the Cruze is GM’s best-selling passenger car. GM has sold 119,330 Cruzes this year through May, or 18.4 percent more than it did in the first five months of 2013.

The air bag issue is not related to the defective ignition switch at the heart of GM’s recall of 2.6 million small cars that is tied to 13 deaths, more than 50 crashes and four investigations.

“Certain vehicles may be equipped with a suspect driver’s air bag inflator module that may have been assembled with an incorrect part,” GM spokesmen Jim Cain said in a statement.

GM, which notified dealers of the stop-sale order on Tuesday, said it is working to identify how many cars may have driver-side air bags with a defective part.

That issue is different from a problem with the chemical degradation of Takata air bags on older model cars that have caused seven automakers to recall millions of cars.

GM’s stop-sale order, first reported by Automotive News, is the company’s latest setback in a six-month period in which it has recalled more than 20 million cars, a number that exceeds its recalls in any year.

GM has been under intense scrutiny since February for recalling a defective ignition switch in older model Chevrolet Cobalts, HHRs, Saturn Ions and Skys and Pontiac G5s more than a decade after GM engineers noticed the defect.

In March, GM told Chevrolet dealers to stop selling 2013 and 2014 Cruzes with the 1.4-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine. The company didn’t say why it halted sales.

Last month, GM issued another stop-sale order on about 3,500 new pickups and SUVs as the company investigated an undisclosed “issue.”

“We are working diligently with the supplier of the defective part to identify specific vehicles affected and expect to resume deliveries by the end of this week once those vehicles are identified,” Cain said.

Nearly 10 million vehicles with Takata air bags have been recalled since 2008. Tokyo-based Takata is one of the world’s largest air bag suppliers.

Its North American headquarters is in Auburn Hills, Mich. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon.