GM Recall of Buick and Chevrolet Models for Possible Fire Hazard under Investigation By Tod Aronovitz | 07/09/13 | 0 Comment

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking into whether General Motors has done enough to fix over 42,000 2012-2013 Buick LaCrosse, Regal and 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco hybrid vehicles in a recent GM recall after a fire was reported in one of the repaired autos.

The May 2013 GM recall was meant to address a malfunction of the Generator Control Module (GCM) in models equipped with eAssist. The problem may cause a gradual loss of battery charge and the illumination of the malfunction indicator light, which could eventually lead to an engine stall and/or inability for the vehicle to start, in addition to setting off a burning or melting odor, smoke and a potential fire in the trunk.

According to GM, it had been conducting a service test that stressed the module under extreme conditions to identify and replace the GCM on cars that were problematic, but the NHTSA found one report of fire in a vehicle that previously had the service update performed. GM spokesman Alan Adler said the automaker is cooperating with the NHTSA to resolve this issue, and is unaware of any injuries or crashes as a result.

The GCM problem was first brought to GM’s attention last August after seeing an elevated number of warranty claims. In October, the automaker learned of a vehicle fire when the service procedure was being conducted, so the company expanded the number of vehicles, and all new vehicles were screened at the assembly plant prior to shipment.

In March of this year, GM learned of another fire in a recalled vehicle that was apparently fixed, and provided the NHTSA with field reports. Both agreed to recall the vehicles, but the NHTSA nevertheless opened their investigation to make sure that service testing is sufficient to identify defective GCMs.

This isn’t the NHTSA’s sole investigation into GM recalled vehicles, as two other queries involve brake lights and air bags.

In June, the NHTSA upgraded an investigation into more than 500,000 2005-06 Pontiac G6 cars because of a brake light malfunction that has been reported in vehicles that were not initially recalled in 2009. NHTSA called for an engineering analysis of the brake lights that may activate without depressing the brake pedal and/or turn off when the brake pedal is depressed. After getting results, the agency can formally ask GM to issue a recall.

GM and the NHTSA have each received one report about an alleged vehicle crash. The Pontiac G6 cars were originally part of a technical service bulletin that GM issued in December 2008 to tackle braking problems, and also included 2004-07 Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx, 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, 2007-09 Saturn AURA vehicles.

Another NHTSA investigation, announced in early June, is looking into two smaller GM recalls in October 2012 and January 2013 for air bag problems in certain 2012 Chevrolet Cruze, Sonic and Camaro models as well as Buick Verano vehicles that could prevent airbags from properly deploying in a crash. There were 7,000 vehicles involved in the recall, but the NHTSA is questioning whether it should be expanded to 400,000.

More information about the GM recall and other vehicle recalls can be found at or by contacting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.

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