GM recalling 1.4 million vehicles for fire hazard

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motors is recalling 1.4 million vehicles in the U.S. to fix a problem in which fires can be caused by a heated windshield washer fluid system.

The automaker is recalling approximately 100,000 more vehicles in other countries for the same problem.

gmc_acadia_front2.03.jpg
2009 GMC Acadia

GM recalled 944,000 vehicles for this same problem in 2008, but now says the fixes it made aren't stopping new fires. Now GM dealers will simply disable the system altogether.

The system is designed to heat windshield washer fluid in order to better clear the vehicles' windshield on cold days..

In a recall action announced in August 2008, GM dealers installed a fuse to shut off the system in the event of a short circuit.

A short circuit in the circuit board that controls the system caused a grounding wire to overheat. That led to smoke and the malfunctioning of other electrical components.

There have new reports of "thermal incidents," including five fires, in vehicles that have had the repair, according to documents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The problem in the current recall is unrelated to the one involved in the first recall. In the new cases, the overheating is not being stopped by the fuse, GM spokesman Alan Adler said.

"While our analysis shows the number of incidents is very small compared with the number of vehicles on the road, we want our customers to have complete peace of mind," Jeff Boyer, GM's executive director of safety, said in a statement.

There have been no reports of accidents or injuries as a result of the problem, GM said.

The company that originally supplied the system to GM, MicroHeat Inc., was forced into bankruptcy following the 2008 recall. The company reorganized under the name AlphaTherm and now sells heated washer fluid systems directly to vehicle owners.

Joe Trubak, general manager of AlphaTherm and a former MicroHeat executive, said MicroHeat engineers had tried to work with GM after 2008 recall to come up with a more robust solution to the problem. Had GM followed MicroHeat's advice, he said, this new recall would never have been needed.

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

The vehicles affected by the recall are the Buick Enclave and Lucerne; Cadillac CTS, DTS and Escalade; Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe and Traverse; GMC Acadia, Sierra and Yukon; Hummer H2; and Saturn Outlook.

All the vehicles are from 2006 to 2009 model years. Owners will receive $100 from GM to compensate them for loss of the feature.

Owners who think their vehicle may be involved in this recall can call NHTSA at 1-888-327-4236 or contact GM customer service for their vehicle brand. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Find Your Next Car
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,804.80 26.65 0.15%
Nasdaq 4,765.38 16.98 0.36%
S&P 500 2,070.65 9.42 0.46%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.03 -1.27%
Data as of 12:20pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.62 0.09 0.51%
Apple Inc 111.78 -0.87 -0.77%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.48 1.91%
Intel Corp 36.37 -0.65 -1.76%
Microsoft Corp 47.66 0.14 0.29%
Data as of Dec 19

Sections

New York Magazine reporter Jessica Pressler, who has been caught up in controversy this past week, will not be moving on to a new job at Bloomberg News. More

Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More

Forums in dark corners of the web sell the kinds of hacks that befell Sony. More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

The income of the top 1% jumped significantly in 2012, far outpacing inflation. Not only did this group make a larger share of the country's income, their share of total taxes also jumped from 35% to 38%. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.