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General Motors Recalls Vehicles for Fire Hazard

Aug 29, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Nearly a million cars, trucks and SUVs are being recalled by General Motors today because their heated windshield washer system poses a fire hazard.  General Motors says it  is aware of three fires caused by this problem, but no injuries have been reported so far.

The fluid heating system is a popular option on many of General Motor's large cars and SUVs.  It is used in cold weather to heat windshield washer fluid before spraying it onto the windshield, where it can melt ice and frost on the windshield.

The General Motors recall involves 944,000 trucks, 850,000 of which are in the U.S.  The models listed below, if they're equipped with a heated windshield washer fluid system, are subject to the recall:

  • Model year 2006-08 Buick Lucerne sedans and model year 2008 Buick Enclave SUVs.
  • Model year 2006-08 Cadillac DTS sedans and model year 2007-08 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT SUVs.
  • Model year 2007-08 Chevrolet Avalanche and Silverado trucks and Suburban and Tahoe SUVs.
  • Model year 2007-08 GMC Acadia, Yukon, and Yukon XL SUVs and Sierra trucks.
  • 2008 Saturn Outlook SUVs.


According to General Motors, a short circuit in the circuit board that controls the windshield washer system could cause a grounding wire to overheat. That could lead to smoke and the malfunctioning of other electrical components, GM said in a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  There is a possibility this could lead to a fire.

The vehicles must be turned on for the short circuit to occur,  but the company did not say whether the washer fluid heating system needed to be in use.

General Motors says that dealers will install a fuse that will shut off the system in the event of a short circuit to correct the problem.  However, the company has not yet provided the NHTSA with a schedule detailing when owners of affected vehicles will be notified.


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