GM may be forced to expand vehicle recall over problems with Buick and Chevrolet cars

by Eric Pearson

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether a recall issued by General Motors for more than 43,000 vehicles earlier this year was adequate to address safety problems with the company’s vehicles. General Motors recalled about 43,000 Buick LaCrosse, Buick Regal, and Chevrolet Malibu Eco vehicles in May 2013 due to problems with its eAssist fuel-economy system.

GM announced a recall of vehicles with the eAssist system—which is designed to start and stop the engine to save fuel—because of a defective generator-control module which could cause the vehicles’ engines to stall, leading to a trunk fire. GM said that it would replace these modules in about 22,000 cars and test the remaining 21,000 for problems.

However, NHTSA says this plan may no longer be adequate after the agency received a report of a car fire involving one of the vehicles that had been tested by GM for problems. The agency is currently evaluating whether to order the eAssist generator-control modules replaced in all of the cars, not just the ones that were originally recalled by GM. Investigators with NHTSA say that GM knew about the fire which took place in a car that had passed a dealer’s inspection, but failed to notify the agency at the time of the recall.

NHTSA says that this is the fourth time this year that the agency has questioned the adequacy of a recall issued by General Motors:

  • In February 2013, NHTSA launched an investigation into whether GM should have recalled 551,000 vehicles instead of 8,000 due to a brake light problem identified in 2009. Although the recall affected only the 2005-2006 Pontiac G6s, GM has admitted that it has received 1,104 complaints and about 14,400 “potentially related warranty claims”—including at least one accident report—involving brake light problems vehicles with the model years 2005-2008.
  • NHTSA persuaded GM to recall nearly 194,000 model year 2005-2007 SUVs due to an electrical problem that could lead to fires. According to the recall notice, a risk of short circuit in the driver’s side power window controls could cause windows or door locks from operating properly and may lead to “odor, smoke or fire.” GM had recalled about 278,000 vehicles the previous year, but was persuaded to expand the recall by NHTSA, which felt that it was inadequate to address problems with the vehicles. Vehicles involved in the recall included the Chevrolet Trailblazer and Trailblazer EXT, GMC Envoy and Envoy XL, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Buick Rainier, Isuzu Ascender, Saab 9-7x.
  • NHTSA also announced in June that it was investigating whether GM should have recalled about 400,000 vehicles due to airbag problems, rather than the 6,900 that were actually recalled by the company. GM recalled about 3,000 Chevrolet Verano, Chevrolet Cruze, and Chevrolet Sonic vehicles from 2012 due a risk of problems with the driver’s side air bag which could cause it to fail to deploy properly during a crash. GM later recalled 3,900 additional Verano, Cruze, and Sonic vehicles, as well as the Chevrolet Camaro, at the insistence of NHTSA, which felt that the initial recall was inadequate.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson Takes on Major Automakers

Automakers have a duty to ensure that the cars that they build are as safe as reasonably possible under the current technology and safety standards. When car manufacturers fail to uphold the manufacturing standards set by safety regulators, or when they fail to act promptly to address safety issue after learning about problems with their vehicles, they may be held liable for the injuries caused by their products in a court of law.

If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of accidents caused by malfunctioning safety technology or faulty manufacturing on a car or truck, you may have a case against the company that manufactured your vehicle. In order to determine whether you are eligible to file a case, you need to retain the services of experienced, qualified legal counsel as soon as possible.

The attorneys with the law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson have the legal experience and knowledge to pursue legal action against any of the major auto manufacturers. To receive a free case evaluation and find out whether you may be eligible to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free contact form located at the top of this page.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.