Early this morning, General Motors announced five separate recalls, affecting roughly 2.7 million Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, and Saturn vehicles from the 2004 to 2015 model years. One of the recalls is so serious that GM has asked owners to stop driving the vehicles immediately.
Given the size and scope of the recalls, it appears that GM is working to nip these issues in the bud and avoid high-profile problems like the current "Switchgate" fiasco. Jeff Boyer, GM's vice president of Global Vehicle Safety, confirms that hunch: "We have redoubled our efforts to expedite and resolve current reviews in process and also have identified and analyzed recent vehicle issues which require action. These are examples of our focus to surface issues quickly and promptly take necessary actions in the best interest of our customers."
RECALL #1: 2004-2012 Chevrolet Malibu, 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, 2005-2010 Pontiac G6, 2007-2010 Saturn Aura
According to a GM press release, these 2,440,524 vehicles have been recalled for a problem with the wiring harness associated with the brake lamp. Corrosion of the harness can cause the vehicles' brake lights to illuminate when the brakes aren't being engaged, or, on the other hand, prevent the lights from illuminating when the driver hits the brakes. The flaw could also disable important systems like electronic stability control, traction control, panic braking assist, and cruise control.
GM says that it has received "several hundred" complaints about the problem, which has been linked to 13 collisions and two injuries. GM knows of no fatalities associated with the brake light glitch.
RECALL #2: 2005-2007 Chevrolet Corvette
This recall of 111,889 U.S. vehicles is meant to fix a serious problem with the low-beam headlights. GM says that "When the engine is warm, the underhood electrical center housing could expand, causing the headlamp low-beam relay control circuit wire to bend slightly." Over time, the circuit wire can break, disabling the low-beam headlights.
This problem appears to affect Corvettes from the 2008-2013 model years, too, though GM says that those vehicles will be repaired via a Customer Satisfaction Program, rather than a full-fledged recall. As with recall #1, GM hasn't specified how it will fix the problem.
RECALL #3: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu
This recall affects 140,067 vehicles -- specifically those equipped with 2.5-liter engines and stop/start tech. These versions of the Malibu suffer from a software problem in the electronic control module that can, on occasion, disable the hydraulic brake boost function. When that happens, drivers have to assert greater pressure when braking, and stopping distances can be extended. Both situations increase the risk of an accident.
GM will repair the vehicles by upgrading the software on the electronic control module.
RECALL #4: 2013-2014 Cadillac CTS
GM's recall of 19,225 CTS vehicles stems from a problem with the windshield wipers. Under certain circumstances -- namely, when the vehicle is jump-started while the wipers are on and restricted by ice or snow -- the wiper system can be completely disabled. (That may sound like a pretty specific situation, but if your battery has ever died in winter, you
it's not entirely unrealistic.) The fix involves replacing the front wiper module.
RECALL #5: 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, 2014 GMC Sierra, 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
These 477 vehicles suffer from a problem with steering system. According to GM, "The tie rod threaded attachment to the steering gear rack in these vehicles may not be tightened to specification. With this condition, the tie rod can separate from the steering rack and a crash could occur without prior warning."
Please note: GM says that owners should NOT drive any of the affected vehicles until they've been inspected by a dealer and repaired. (If you own one of the affected vehicles, you should receive word today: GM sent notices yesterday via overnight mail.) The vehicles shouldn't even be driven to dealerships; instead, owners should call GM and arrange to have their vehicles towed in for service.
GM explains that the number of of vehicles is small because the defect was discovered early in the assembly process. The repair involves inspection of the inner tie rods to ensure proper torque. If necessary, GM says that the steering gear will be completely replaced.
So far, only recalls #3 and 1 have been published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, meaning that we have limited details about the service timeline for the others.
As far as recall #3 goes (aka GM recall #14201), Chevy Malibu owners will be notified around May 30, 2014. At that time, they'll be instructed to take their vehicles to Chevrolet dealers, who will conduct the aforementioned software upgrade free of charge.
As explained above, recall 1 (aka GM recall #14204) began yesterday, and owners should receive notice today. Please contact GM for additional details and to make towing arrangements.
For details about the other three recalls, we suggest you contact General Motors customer service at 800-222-1020. If you prefer, you can ring NHTSA at 888-327-4236, but they may not have complete details about all five recalls just yet.