Another safety recall has been issued by General Motors! This time the company is recalling a group of SUVs (for a third time) to fix power window switches that could catch fire.
The problem, which was revealed in documents posted by federal safety regulators this week, is such a serious one that GM is telling customers to park the SUVs outdoors until they have been repaired because they could catch fire when left unattended.
The vehicles will be left outside for a while. The earliest the parts will be ready is October, according to GM. The automaker has ordered dealers to immediately stop selling the SUVs as used cars until they are fixed.
This recall covers approximately 189,000 vehicles from North America, mainly from the 2006 and 2007 model years. Models affected include the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainer, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 97-X. The recall was one of six announced by GM on June 30 that covered 7.6 million vehicles.
As we have posted on several blogs, GM is in the midst of the biggest safety crisis in its’ history, touched off by the delayed recall of 2.6 million older small cars to fix faulty ignition switches. GM has a issued a record 60 recalls this year alone, of about 29 million vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has fined GM $35 million for their decade long lapse in reporting the ignition switch problems, which are blamed for at least 13 deaths.
Following the major ignition switch issue, GM did a nationwide safety review, hired a new global safety chief and promised to put safety first.
The SUV problem was first realized in early 2012 when NHTSA began investigating customer complaints of fires in the driver’s-door switches that control power windows.
Initially, GM tried to address the issue with a “service campaign,” where it sent letters to owners telling them that water can get into the switches, causing rust that can result in short circuits, overheating and possibly causing fires. The campaign extended the warranty and offered service to any vehicles that exhibited the problems. It was limited to 20 states and Washington, D.C., where salt is used to clear roads in the winter.
After receiving government pressure In August 2012, GM recalled 278,000 of the SUVs in the cold-weather states and offered extended warranties to the rest of the country. NHTSA continued their investigation and ten months later, GM expanded the recall nationwide.
By that time, NHTSA and GM had received 242 complaints, including 28 concerning fires. No injuries were reported.
In October 2008, a woman filed a complaint with NHTSA regarding the alarm sounding when her 2006 TrailBlazer was parked in her driveway. When she looked outside, it was in flames. Firefighters put out the fire and told her it started in the driver’s door.
“The fire burned the entire driver’s side of the vehicle, a portion of the front passenger seat and the roof,” she wrote. People filing complaints are not identified by the agency.
Last year to repair this problem, GM was to put a protective coating around the window switch circuit boards, which is less costly than replacing the switches. However, starting in April, GM received complaints that the switches malfunctioned in SUVs that had been repaired. Finally, in June, GM decided to issue the third recall and replace all of the switches.
A company spokesman said that they issued the recall since the fix they put in did not work. GM initially tried the service campaign since the number of affected vehicles was so low, limited to the cold-weather states because salty water made the switches rust quickly and fewer incidents were reported in warmer states.
Letters notifying owners about the SUV recall should be mailed soon. Owners will get a second letter sometime from October to December telling them when parts are available to fix the vehicles.
The initial recalls issued due to faulty ignition switches would have only cost GM under $2 per switch to make the repairs and do the right thing. So many innocent lives were lost and thousands more injured. To make matters even worse is the fact that GM knew about this safety problem for a decade and said and did nothing. Now they have to be overly cautious since the world is watching.
If you or a loved one was injured due to a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys for more information at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).