Build your own 'Vette V-8

Don't just clean your 2011 Chevrolet Corvette, help build its engine. Buyers of 2011 Z06 and ZR1 models can do just that.

DETROIT --- Corvette owners could soon be revving up an engine they built with their own hands.


General Motors Co. said Monday that buyers who order a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 can help assemble their cars' high-performance LS7 and LS9 engines. The automaker says the program is the first of its kind in the industry.

The engines will be built at GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Mich., where GM assembles all of its high-performance engines by hand. The facility can assemble up to 15,000 engines a year, GM spokesman Tom Read said.

Read said it will take buyers about six hours to assemble, adjust and clean their engines with the parts provided. A skilled technician will supervise.

The 2011 Corvettes are just going into production and will go on sale soon. Read said the company expects to have customers building their own engines as soon as next month. GM sold 13,934 Corvettes last year, according to AutoData Corp.

GM suggests dealers charge $5,800 for the engine-building program, which doesn't include air transportation or lodging. That's just a fraction of the cost of a Corvette Z06, which starts around $75,000, or a ZR1, which is more than $100,000.

In other news

-- General Motors Co. is guaranteeing the battery in its Chevrolet Volt electric car for eight years or 100,000 miles in an effort to inspire confidence in the new technology.

The guarantee is better than warranties on GM's conventional engines and transmissions -- which run for five years or 100,000 miles.

The rechargeable Volt is due in showrooms this November. The vehicle can travel 40 miles on battery power before a small gasoline engine takes over to power the car for longer distances.

A longer warranty will help GM convince skeptical buyers that the Volt's lithium-ion battery will last for many years. The batteries are similar to the chemical composition of cell phone and computer batteries, which often wear out and are relatively expensive to replace.

The Volt battery weighs 400 pounds and can cost thousands of dollars to replace.

-- Chrysler is recalling about 22,000 sport utility vehicles and trucks to fix brake tubes that could lead to the loss of brake fluid. Its recall affects certain 2010 Dodge Nitro, Dodge Ram, Jeep Liberty and Jeep Wranglers. The problem could lead to the loss of brake fluid, making it difficult to stop. Owners should be notified in August.

-- Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 30,000 2010 Transit Connect vans to replace push pins holding the liners above the driver's head. The company says government testing found it failed to meet federal standards protecting the head.

Ford's recall is expected to begin this month.

-- The government is opening investigations into possible power steering problems in Mazda3 cars and BMW Z4 sports cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigations involve more than 290,000 of the 2007-09 Mazda3s and nearly 50,000 of the 2003-05 Z4s.

The complaints involve the loss of power steering, making it difficult to maintain control. Government investigations sometimes lead to recalls.