US safety regulators have intensified a probe into faulty rear brake lamps on more than 1.2 million General Motors sport utility vehicles, the government reportedly said on Tuesday.

According to Reuters, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said a preliminary evaluation of the problem had been escalated to the status of an “engineering analysis,” a move that often precedes a safety recall.

The news agency noted that GM has recalled more vehicles so far this year than in all of 2003 – last week it recalled 246,433 of its Saturn Vue SUVs to reinforce their rear suspensions.

NHTSA reportedly said vehicles targeted in its engineering analysis were from the 2002-2004 model years and included the Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Oldsmobile Bravada and Buick Rainier SUVs.

A combined total of 687 complaints have been received by GM and NHTSA alleging that rear brake lamps on the vehicles fail to operate when the brake pedal is depressed, the agency told Reuters.

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Separately, NHTSA reportedly said it was investigating potential cracks or fractures in the rims of steel wheels on about 90,000 Crown Victoria police cars and taxis built by Ford.

The cars are from the 2003 model year and some complaints allege the faulty rims are on wheels that Ford offered as replacements after a recall in August last year, Reuters added.

One crash that caused minor injuries has been linked to failure of the wheels under investigation, NHTSA reportedly said.