NHTSA Investigation Prompts GM Recalls of SUVs for Fires


Rain or fluid may enter the driver’s door module, causing corrosion that could result in a short in the circuit board.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has prompted recalls of more than 249,000 GM mid-size SUVs because of fires in the driver’s door caused by a defective electric window motor. Affected are 2006-2007 model year Buick Rainier, Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 9-7x models, all from the GMT360 platform.

NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation has received a total of 83 complaints, 66 alleging the door module had melted or burned, and the remaining 17 stating that the window switches acted erratically or were inoperative. Twenty-eight of the reports received have led to driver door fires, some of which allege the vehicle was keyed off and unattended.

Fluid may enter the driver’s door module, causing corrosion that could result in a short in the circuit board. A short could cause the power door lock and power window switches to function intermittently or break. The short may also cause overheating, which could melt components of the door module, producing odor, smoke, or a fire.

After NHTSA requested more information from General Motors about the truck safety defect, GM said there were 167 reports and 698 warranty claims possibly related to the problem. As NHTSA’s scrutiny increased, GM decide to recall the SUVs but only those originally sold or currently registered in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

Critics of such regional recalls designed to hold down repair costs maintain that potentially dangerous vehicles are left unrepaired.

GM dealers will replace the driver’s power window switch free of charge as is required by U.S. safety regulations. GM said it doesn’t know when owner notification will begin in the required NHTSA filing. Buick owners may contact 1-800-521-7300, Chevrolet owners 1-866-694-6546, and GMC owners at 1-866-996-9463.

Isuzu owners will be notified by Isuzu Motors. Owners may contact Isuzu customer service at 1-800-255-6727. SAAB owners will be notified by SAAB Cars North America, and for inquiries owners may call SAAB customer service at 1-855-880-0808.

Owners can also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov.

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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