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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

GM Recalls 1.4 Million Vehicles for a Fire Hazard

General Motors announced today that it is recalling 1.4 million vehicles for its second recall related to fires caused by a windshield washer fluid heating system. The heating system in the windshield wiper fluid was supposed to help the fluid clean the windshield on cold days, but the defective auto part has led to several fires. In 2008, the company recalled over 800,000 vehicles and believed it had instituted an appropriate fix, a fuse that was supposed to cut off power in the event of a malfunction and prevent a fire, but several "thermal incidents" have resulted in vehicles with the fix, apparently related to a different type of failure than was addressed by the earlier fix.

The current fix will involve permanent disabling and removal of the system. The affected vehicles are:

  • Buick Enclave 2008-2009

  • Buick Lucerne 2006-2009

  • Cadillac CTS 2008-2009

  • Cadillac DTS 2006-2009

  • Cadillac Escalade (including ESV & EXT) 2007-2009

  • Chevrolet Avalanche 2007-2009

  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500 2007-2009

  • Chevrolet Suburban 2007-2009

  • Chevrolet Tahoe 2007-2009

  • Chevrolet Traverse 2009

  • GMC Acadia 2007-2009

  • GMC Sierra 2007-2009

  • GMC Yukon (including XL) 2007-2009

  • Hummer H2 2006-2009

  • Saturn Outlook 2009

Since the current fix involves entirely removing the defective system, it raises the question why so many vehicles were equipped with this potentially dangerous system in the first place. The initial recall was issued in August 2008, before the 2009 models were released, so why were so many 2009 model year cars equipped with this system? All the currently-built models would have to be modified anyway, so why keep the potentially risky system in place?

The company that supplied the washer fluid heater systems went bankrupt as a result of the 2008 recall. It reorganized as AlphaTherm, and currently sells similar heaters as aftermarket parts directly to car owners, and recently announced a deal to help a Korean company manufacture and supply the system to its domestic market. It is unknown whether the aftermarket washer fluid heaters have experienced any significant "thermal incidents."

If you have been hurt or lost a loved one as a result of a defective automobile, the product liability lawyers of The Cochran Firm stand ready to help. Please contact us today for a free case review.


posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 12:38 PM

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