Washington looking for answers from GM as recalls mount


General Motors’ recall woes have continued this week.

As the automaker was expected to meet with the U.S. Congressional committee on Energy and Commerce to discuss reports it was aware of issues in its ignition switches for more than a decade before issuing a recall, it revealed three additional recalls on Monday involving nearly 1.5 million vehicles.

These additional recalls stem, according to the company, from GM CEO Mary Barra’s insistence on a comprehensive internal safety review.

The new recalls involve 303,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savanna from the 2009-2014 model years with gross vehicle weight under 10,000 pounds; 63,900 Cadillac XTS full-size sedan from the 2013 and 2014 model years; 1.18 million Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia models from the 2008-2013 model years; Chevrolet Traverse from the 2009-2013 model years; and Saturn Outlook from the 2008-2010 model years.

“I asked our team to redouble our efforts on our pending product reviews, bring them forward and resolve them quickly,” Barra said in the release. “That is what today’s GM is all about.”

The full-size vans with gross vehicle weights of 10,000 pounds or less do not comply with a head impact requirement for unrestrained occupants, requiring a rework of the passenger instrument panel material.

In the XTS, a brake booster pump can create positive pressure within the wiring harness attached to the pump relay. This pressure can lead to the dislodging of a plug in the brake booster pump relay, allowing corrosive elements to enter the connector and form a low-resistance short that could lead to overheating, melting of plastic components and a possible engine compartment fire.

GM is aware of two engine compartment fires in unsold vehicles at dealerships and two cases of melted components.

With respect to the Enclave, Traverse, Acadia and Outlook, the vehicles are equipped with a Service Air Bag warning light in the driver information centre. Ignoring the Service Air Bag warning light will eventually result in the non-deployment of the side impact restraints, which include driver and passenger seat-mounted side air bags, front centre air bag (if equipped), and the seat belt pretensioners.

Barra also released a video update on the recalls for GM employees on the U.S. media site saying the company is cooperating with federal authorities regarding its ignition switch recall.

In addition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s investigation, there are two congressional committees examining the issue and the U.S. Department of Justice is reportedly looking into the matter for possible criminal charges.

“Something went wrong with our process in this instance, and terrible things happened,” Barra said of the ignition switch issue.

She noted GM is working with ignition switch provider Delphi to add a second production line to double replacement part availability. The automaker will also send a recall service bulletin to dealers the week of April 7.

Said the system to decide and manage recalls will change as a result of this massive problem.

“We are conducting an intense review of our internal process and we will have more developments to announce as we move forward,” she said. “The bottom line is we will be better because of this tragic situation if we seize the opportunity.”

At least one lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. with many more expected.