updated 8/12/2004 1:04:48 PM ET 2004-08-12T17:04:48

General Motors Corp. is recalling 199,793 Buick Regal and Century sedans, nearly five years after federal officials determined their headlights don’t meet safety standards, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday.

Involved in the recall are Buick and Century sedans from the 1999 model year. The agency said drivers could find it difficult to read overhead signs at night because the headlights don’t shine at the proper angle.

NHTSA determined that the problem existed in 1999 and told GM to recall the cars. GM petitioned against a recall, saying the problem didn’t affect the safety of the vehicles.

“The condition didn’t affect drivers’ ability to see down the road and GM didn’t think there was any real difference,” GM spokesman Jim Schell said.

The government turned down GM’s petition in 2001 and GM petitioned again, Schell said. NHTSA made the final determination that there should be a recall in January. The agency has received at least six complaints about the problem but no reports of injuries.

Owners will be notified of the recall starting next month. They will be able to get new headlight bulbs from dealers for free.

GM has been plagued by costly recalls this year involving millions of vehicles. Earlier this week, NHTSA said it was upgrading an investigation into brake light failures on GM sport utility vehicles that could lead to the recall of an additional 1.2 million vehicles..

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