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GM recalls 944,000 vehicles for fire hazard

Recall involves vehicles that are equipped with windshield washer fluid heaters.

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By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com senior writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors is recalling 944,000 vehicles, 850,000 of them in the United States, because of the potential for a fire in the vehicles' heated windshield washer fluid system.

A short circuit in the circuit board that controls the system could cause a grounding wire to overheat. That could lead to smoke and the malfunctioning of other electrical components, GM (GM, Fortune 500) said in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In rare cases, it could cause a fire, GM said.

GM is aware of three fires caused by this problem, two of which were in the company's own test fleet vehicles, GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said. The company is not aware of any injuries caused by the problem.

The vehicles must be turned on for the short circuit to occur, Wilkinson said, but he could not say whether the washer fluid heating system needed to be in use.

The models listed below, if they're equipped with a heated windshield washer fluid system, are subject to the recall:

  • Model year 2006-08 Buick Lucerne sedans and model year 2008 Buick Enclave SUVs.
  • Model year 2006-08 Cadillac DTS sedans and model year 2007-08 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT SUVs.
  • Model year 2007-08 Chevrolet Avalanche and Silverado trucks and Suburban and Tahoe SUVs.
  • Model year 2007-08 GMC Acadia, Yukon, and Yukon XL SUVs and Sierra trucks.
  • 2008 Saturn Outlook SUVs.

The fluid heating system is a popular option on many of GM's large cars and SUVs, said Wilkinson.

On cold days, the system heats windshield washer fluid before spraying it onto the windshield, where it can melt ice and frost on the windshield.

To fix the problem, dealers will install a fuse that will shut off the system in the event of a short circuit. GM has not yet provided NHTSA with a schedule detailing when owners of affected vehicles will be notified.

The recall involves all three of GM's popular new three-row crossover SUVs, the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and the Buick Enclave. Those vehicles have received critical praise from the media and have sold relatively well even while sales of other large SUVs have faltered. GM recently began exporting U.S.-made Enclave SUVs to China, where Buick is a leading luxury car brand. To top of page

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