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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

GM Recalls Vehicles for Fire Hazard

General Motors has announced that it will recall 1.4 million vehicles because of a problem with heating windshield washer fluid. This is the second such recall, as in 2008, GM recalled about 944,000 vehicles for this same problem. At that time, they did something to fix it, but now, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) documents, have received reports of fires in vehicles that were fixed.

This time, GM plans to just disable the heating system. The idea was a good one – to heat the windshield washing fluid so that on cold days it would do a better job. The 2008 fix was installation of a fuse that would shut off the heating system in the event of a short circuit. If a short circuit happened in the circuit board, a grounding wire became overheated, leading to smoke and malfunction in other electrical components.

The fire hazard in this current recall is different from that in the 2008 recall. This time, it is the fuse supposed to prevent any short circuit that is failing.

  • "While our analysis shows the number of incidents is very small compared with the number of vehicles on the road,” stated Jeff Boyer, GM's executive director of safety, “We want our customers to have complete peace of mind."

GM Ignored Good Advice

After the 2008 recall, the company that had supplied the heating system to GM, MicroHeat Inc., was forced into bankruptcy. It reorganized and now, under the name of AlphaTherm, it sells heating systems directly to vehicle owners. AlphaTherm general manager who was previously a MicroHeat executive, stated that Microheat engineers had tried to persuade GM to dig deeper into the problem and devise a more robust solution.

  • "They never fully determined root cause prior to the first recall," he said.

If they had followed MicroHeat’s lead, this current recall would not have happened.

Recalled Vehicles

The vehicles currently recalled are 2006 through 2009 models and are:

  • Buick Enclave and Lucerne
  • Cadillac CTS, DTS and Escalade
  • Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe and Traverse
  • GMC Acadia, Sierra and Yukon
  • Hummer H2
  • Saturn Outlook

If you own one of these vehicles, GM will give you $100 as compensation for the loss of this heating system. You can call the NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236.

Defective vehicles can be life-threatening although in this scenario there have been no reported accidents or injuries yet. If you would like to speak with one of our product liability lawyers, please call or email us today for a free case review.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 1:14 PM

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