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Most large vehicles made by Mitsubishi Motors Corp. involved in incidents in which their tires became detached had old-model hubs linking the axle and tire, it was learned Sunday.

The company changed the model made between 1989 and 1995 to a stronger one in 1995 and there have been no reports of such accidents involving vehicles with the new model, informed sources said.

Police searched Mitsubishi Motors’ headquarters in Tokyo on Friday over an accident last January in Yokohama in which a woman died and her two sons were injured by a tire that came off a Mitsubishi truck.

Fifty-two incidents involving tires detaching from large Mitsubishi vehicles had been reported as of Sept. 30.

The Kanagawa Prefectural Police suspect professional negligence by Mitsubishi Motors, which is approximately one-third owned by DaimlerChrysler AG.

The Jan. 10 accident involved the left front tire detaching from the truck and traveling 50 meters before hitting Shiho Okamoto, 29, from Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture, and injuring her two sons, who were walking on a sidewalk in Seya Ward, Yokohama.

Investigators determined that the hub linking the axle and the tire broke. But the truck maker has denied that a structural fault caused the damage and blamed the accident on poor maintenance.

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