GM issues vehicle safety recalls over transmission problem and fuel leaks risk

by Jim Orr

General Motors has announced two major safety-related recalls within about a week. First, General Motors announced a recall last week of nearly 474,000 Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn cars to fix a transmission problem that can cause the cars to roll away unexpectedly. Now, General Motors is recalling nearly 41,000 cars sold in warm-weather states because of concerns that a defective plastic part might cause a fuel leak, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Transmissions & Cars Rolling Away

The government began investigating the transmission problem last year after getting reports of seven crashes and one injury, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. The recall affects 2007-10 Chevrolet Malibus, Pontiac G6s and Saturn Auras in the U.S., Canada and Mexico as well as a small number of exports. All of the cars have four-speed automatic transmissions.

A report of the recall states that part of the transmission cable can break, which can cause the shifter to show that the car is in park when it’s really in gear. Tabs on the transmission shift cable end can fracture and separate in the cars. Such a fracture can put the transmission shift lever out of sync with the actual position of the transmission gear. Thus, the transmission might look like it is in park but could be in another gear. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the car might allow drivers to remove the keys from the ignition, even when the transmission is still in first gear. Of course, a car still in first gear—after the driver has left the vehicle—could roll away, damaging property or injuring people.

General Motors has reported it knows of four crashes from the problem but no injuries. To address the problem, dealers will put a retainer over the end of the cables or replace them. Owners will be told by letter when to set up appointments with dealers.

Cracking Plastic on Fuel Pumps and Potential Fires

GM is also recalling 2007-09 Pontiac G5 and Chevrolet Cobalt sedans as well as 2007 models of the Saturn Ion sedan, Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent sport-utility vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says “some of these vehicles have a condition in which the plastic supply or return port on the fuel pump module may crack, which could cause a fuel leak” and “[f]uel leakage in the presence of an ignition source may result in a fire.”

This recall applies to the vehicles in question that were sold or currently registered in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Texas and California. The recall also applies to some models sold or registered in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

General Motors told NHTSA that it began investigating the problem in 2011 after a dealer reported fuel leaking from five vehicles.

General Motors will notify owners and replace the fuel module free of charge, including for those who live outside the states affected by the recall. That offer is valid for 10 years or 120,000 miles from the date the vehicle was sold.

HO&P and Vehicle Defect Litigation

Car and truck manufacturers have a duty to build a car that is as safe as is reasonably possible under the present state of mechanical technology, vehicle design, and safety. Manufacturers are obligated to design vehicles so that they are safe for any reasonably foreseeable use.

A lawsuit against a car manufacturer could involve issues with air bags, child seats, glass, fuel fires, seat belts, rollover, tire failure, or roof crush as well as other potential problem areas.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a car accident, it may well be that the injuries were caused or made worse because the vehicle was not properly designed or manufactured. In order to determine whether you may have a case, you need to retain experienced, qualified legal counsel at the earliest opportunity.

At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have the experience, knowledge and expertise to pursue a product liability or personal injury claim against any of the major auto manufacturers.

To speak with a lawyer about your case, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free case evaluation form.