GM recalls 1.5 million vehicles| Flaming windshield wiper heater

a merchandising display of blue wiper fluid

A GM recall of 1.5 million vehicles for a wiper fluid heater system that's prone to fires is the second attempt to solve the same problem. Flickr photo.

A GM recall of 1.5 million vehicles worldwide was announced Tuesday. The GM recall issue is a defect in a heated windshield wiper fluid system that has caught fire in a few cases. General Motors Co. is recalling many of the vehicles a second time for the same problem. Technicians at GM dealers will disable the system, made by a vendor who has since gone bankrupt. Vehicle owners will receive $100 from the GM recall as compensation for the loss of the feature.

The GM recall list

The GM recall list includes several pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, crossovers and passenger car models from 2006 to 2009. The Associated Press reports that a 2008 GM recall of more than 900,000 vehicles addressed the same problem. A short circuit could overheat the ground wire. Reports had surfaced of fires in vehicles that had been fixed. GM said it was aware of five fires but no injuries or crashes. Nearly 1.4 million vehicles in the GM recall are in the U.S. and more than 100,000 vehicles are in Canada, Mexico and other international markets.

Windshield wiper heater shorts out

In the 2008 GM recall, dealers installed a fuse to shut off the system in the event of a short circuit. reports that the problem in the current GM recall is not related to the one involved in the first recall. In the five vehicles that caught fire, an analysis showed that the fire, which has also led to the malfunctioning of other electrical components, is not being stopped by the fuse.

Windshield wiper heater disabled

After the first GM recall of the wiper fluid heater, GM said it had kept track of the HotShot system made by Micro-Heat. The Detroit Free Press reports that GM withheld payments from Micro-Heat after the first recall to cover its costs, and the company was forced to file for bankruptcy and liquidate. GM said because Micro-Heat no longer existed, it could not provide an improved design. For the new recall, dealers will remove the fluid heater and reroute some hoses.

Rebounding from GM bailout, bankruptcy

Before the latest recall, GM had posted a first quarter profit — the first time it had been in the black since 2007. In 2009 the GM bailout of more than $50 billion prevented a GM bankruptcy after the company posted losses of $6 billion. GM recently repaid a portion of the bailout and radical restructuring has put the company back on the road to profitability. U.S. auto sales for GM brands were up 17 percent compared to May 2009. GM’s sales gains were led by a 32 percent rise in sales of four of the brands that survived its bankruptcy filing: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

GM Brands on recall list

Vehicle owners will start receiving GM recall letters later this month. In the meantime, people who own the GM brands on the recall list below can contact their dealer to have the heated washer system removed.

Buick Enclave, 2008-2009
Buick Lucerne, 2006-2009
Cadillac CTS, 2008-2009
Cadillac DTS, 2006-2009
Cadillac Escalade, 2007-2009
Cadillac Escalede DSV, 2007-2009
Cadillac Escalede EXT 2007-2009
Chevrolet Avalanche, 2007-2009
Chevrolet Silverado 3500 2007-2009
Chevrolet Suburban, 2007-2009
Chevrolet Tahoe, 2007-2009
Chevrolet Traverse, 2009
GMC Acadia, 2007-2009
GMC Sierra, 2007-2009
GMC Yukon, 2007-2009
GMc Yukon XL, 2007-2009
Hummer H2, 2006-2009
Saturn Outlook, 2007-2009

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