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GM Issues HHR Wagon Recall, While NHTSA Investigates Tahoe and Yukon Fires

Feb 15, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP General Motors HHR Wagons do not meet federal crash standards, prompting a recall of 181,156 HHR Wagons.  News of the HHR Wagon recall came just a few days after it was revealed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating complaints that some of the automaker’s Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukons have caught fire while their engines where off.

According to GM, HHR Wagons sold between 2006 and 2008 that were not equipped with optional roof rail-mounted airbags failed crash tests, and will not protect riders from head injuries in side impact crashes.  GM said dealers would need to install a piece of energy-absorbing plastic to the headliner trim of the HHR Wagons to correct the problem.  The HHR Wagon recall will begin in late March, GM said, when the parts become available. The company will send out notification letters to customers with more information on the HHR Wagon recall. In 2007, about 99,000 Chevy Cobalt sedans were recalled for a similar problem. The Cobalt and HHR share similar underlying engineering.

Meanwhile, is reporting that the NHTSA is investigating two consumer complaints that 2007 Chevy Tahoes and GMC Yukons caught fire while parked in home garages with the engines off. According to, the truck owners reported to NHTSA that both homes were badly damaged and two people were injured in one of the fires.

Despite similarities between the incidents, neither the Chevy Tahoe nor the GMC Yukon are equipped with the type of cruise control system that causes a fire in Ford Motor Co. cars and trucks.  Earlier this month, Ford announced that it was recalling an additional 225,000 vehicles due to faulty wiring in the cruise control mechanism.  Since 1999, Ford has recalled more than 10 million vehicles because of a faulty cruise control switch that could cause a vehicle to erupt in flames even when it was turned off and parked.  

According to, the NHTSA Office of Defect Investigations has opened a preliminary investigation of both vehicles that could eventually lead to a recall of the SUVs. The agency estimates as many as 400,000 vehicles would be affected if a defect is identified and a recall ordered.

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