By on June 23, 2012

GM is recalling 475,418 Chevrolet Cruze models built in the USA as a preventative measure against possible engine fires.

The recall affects all U.S. manufactured Cruzes, which includes all Cruzes sold in the United States, Canada and Israel. The defect is related to an engine heat shield that could cause improperly changed engine oil or hydraulic fluid to heat up via the shield, leading to an engine fire. Recall notices will go out starting July 11th, and should take only 30 minutes at a dealership. A further 61,000 cars will be inspected due to the possibility of improper welds on the fuel tank.

Only two engine fires have been reported so far, but the Cruze has had numerous recalls in its relatively short life. In May 2011, GM recalled all 154,000 Cruzes on the road in the United States and Canada to check for an improperly installed steering shaft, while a recall that same month was issued regarding the shift linkage.

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60 Comments on “GM Enacts Massive, Fire-Related Recall, And It’s Not Volt Related...”


  • avatar
    Pch101

    Robert Farago had a policy of generally not reporting on recalls. That was probably a wise decision.

    There are over a hundred recalls in the United States in any given year. By reporting on just a couple of them, the reporting will necessarily be selective. That opens up the door to being accused of bias, particularly if the coverage seems to focus on just one or two specific automakers.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I would generally agree but this is for a large number of vehicles so is newsworthy.
      But then again so was this :
      http://www.insideline.com/toyota/camry/2009/toyota-recalls-681500-vehicles-including-2009-camry.html
      Perhaps that was part of the “ongoing Government conspiracy against Toyota”.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “this is for a large number of vehicles so is newsworthy”

        I’m not disputing whether it’s newsworthy. I’m raising the point that limited recall coverage is necessarily selective, which in turn allows critics to claim bias. Since I doubt that TTAC wants to run over 100 recall stories in a given year, some decisions need to be made about what qualifies for reporting and what doesn’t.

        “Perhaps that was part of the “ongoing Government conspiracy against Toyota”.”

        As was the case with Audi, Toyota got a lot of unfair attention. But when the attention is noteworthy, then the story has to be reported because the surrounding drama transcends the actual recall itself. For better or for worse, hype and attention in sufficient quantities become part of the story.

        I know that you aren’t fond of Toyota, but it’s fair to point out that the media was generally far more excited about Mark Saylor’s horrendous crash than it was with the actual cause (the wrong floormat being installed by the dealer.) Unintended acceleration is a largely bogus complaint that reflects some sort of user error — depressing the brake pedal on any car, no matter who makes it, will not cause that car to accelerate.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        More like a cover up by Toyota. When they are so worried about savings of not recalling that a memo leaks or the latest meddling of a Toyota car crash scene by engineers, it makes you wonder.

        http://www.autoblog.com/2012/06/01/judge-cautions-jurors-over-toyota-conduct-in-sudden-acceleration/

      • 0 avatar
        Pig_Iron

        A recall is a process, not just an announcement.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      I’m surprise this took so long to be reported. Their flagship compact platform is bursting into flames all over the place. It has occurred at a corporation that went bankrupt due to gross mismanagement which required a government bailout to survive.

      Nearly half a million units; it’s not just a recall, it’s a self refection on how the new regime operates the outfit just as the old one did.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        No, it’s not “bursting into flames all over the place”. The investigation was prompted by two suspicious fires, that GM later expanded into 30 that they think might be similar. That’s out of 475,418 made at Lordstown.

        It’s a low-risk of occurrence/high cost problem, one with a very low-cost ($, not reputation) mitigation – remove most of the belly pan underneath the engine. As these things go, it went through the system fast. GM could have blamed it on poor maintenance practices – which is the direct cause – but instead is deciding to take a hit to it’s own reputation (such as it is) to make sure that those practices can’t cause this problem.

        BTW, this car was designed and implemented by the “old regime”. It’s been in production elsewhere in the world since 2009, and in development for a few years before that. It’s one of Lutz’s last initiatives.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “I’m surprise this took so long to be reported.”

        The recall was announced on Friday, June 22, 2012.

        The TTAC story is dated Saturday, June 23, 2012.

        In my part of the world, today is Sunday, June 24, 2012.

        I have reasonably high expectations, but the ability to divine news stories long before they happen is not one of them. When do you think that this should have been published?

      • 0 avatar
        Pig_Iron

        Recalls do not happen over night; this has been known about for weeks at least, I’m sure. Huge corporations like GM have armies of lawyers who fight to convince the NHTSA that no recall is required and at worse to issue a TSB only. If this recall was “voluntary”, I expect it is because the persuasion went the other way. This platform smells like the Vega.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Recalls do not happen over night; this has been known about for weeks at least”

        No, the recall hasn’t been known about for weeks, since it didn’t start until Friday, June 22, 2012, which as of this writing was three days ago.

        Of course, NHTSA’s investigation started several weeks prior to that, as it publicly announced, but an investigation is not the same thing as a recall.

  • avatar
    TheHammer

    Ah, GM exempt from TTAC’s no-recall stories policy. Why am I not shocked?

    • 0 avatar

      This isn’t the first recall related story TTAC has run. Since the Chevy Volt fire non-story broke I’ve done posts on fire related recalls or investigations on Ford Escapes and a variety of BMW owned brands including Mini, Rolls Royce and BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Ronnie, sorry, I’m going to have to call you out here. If I get banned for the truth so be it. You wrote.

        …This isn’t the first recall related story TTAC has run…

        Whoa stop. I get what you’re doing here. Yes, you wrote your satire piece that was in defense of the Volt, but that was, in your words, “recall RELATED,” story. This isn’t related. It is a straight up story about one model, from one maker, about one very specific recall.

        The last time TTAC did that? May of 2010.

        It was Chrysler.

        I clicked on the “Recall” tag and flipped through the stories as they appear on the site.

        This is very different from your tongue and cheek piece (which I enjoyed) and is a specific call out. TTAC hasn’t done this in over two years.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      I do not remember reading about a half million of the JEEP Liberty being recalled regarding corrosion problems here on TTAC. How about the recall on the Honda Civic – a really big seller – not mentioned here, either.

  • avatar
    StevenJJ

    Come on guys, TTAC doesn’t ‘do’ recall reports IIRC?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Ummmm…I thought TTAC was not going to run recall stories and further anyone guilty of the crime would have to write a story listing every recall of the last 30 days.

    http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/acms/cs/jaxrs/download/doc/UCM422430/RCLMTY-052012-1234.PDF

    If Toyota Camry’s are recalled for flaming window switches of death – that have resulted in 161 fires will we see a story – or wails of conspiracy?

    I think the B&B are right to be calling out our overlords for breaking their own policy.

    I could pull out the, “well if you’re dumb enough to put two floor mats in your car,” argument with, “well if you’re mechanic is a slob who slops oil everywhere, no kidding you’ll have a fire.”

    The way I see, we’re owed a detailed analysis of the May 2012 recall report. The vehicle section is only 15 pages long. I suspect a 30 page story is in order.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Yeah, I wish TTAC would follow their policy, too. That way I wouldn’t have to hear the same pro-GM/anti-Japan talking points from you over and over again.

      Of course, if TTAC did that and the rest of us all pretended that GM cars were all #1 in their segments, there would be nothing left for you to be so incessantly grumpy about. And what fun would that be?

      • 0 avatar
        forraymond

        Pro-Fairness here. If you are going to be a site that bashes car companies, bash them equally when they have earned a good bashing.

        The anti-GM bias shown on this site has gotten out of hand.

        This post is not pro-GM or anti-anything. It is about being “Journalists,” a concept that has gotten lost here on TTAC.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    “Only two engine fires have been reported so far, but the Cruze has had numerous recalls in its relatively short life.”

    From the Detriot Free Press:

    “GM said it had identified about 30 fires that could be related.”
    http://www.freep.com/article/20120622/BUSINESS01/120622031/GM-recalls-all-Chevy-Cruzes-over-engine-fire-risk?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

    One caught on video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=D_ZkooAl06o

  • avatar
    AJ

    My Jeep could use several recalls.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Ha! I had an old Jeep Renegade once that developed a fuel leak during a mud-race and sprang an under-hood fire. If it wasn’t for all that muddy water splashing up from the spinning front wheels things could have been worse.

      Once we popped the hood, a couple of blasts of CBM killed the fire and left a nice flame-broiled motif on the hood.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    I have a Cruze, and have been following this for a couple of months. Apparently GM is going to have the dealers cut a significant amount form the belly pan, exposing the engine and transmission underneath the car. This should let any fluids drip directly on the ground and not pool up on the belly pan. It will literally be cut in two and the center section cut away. It seems they’re doing it to avoid liability down the road due to poorly performed oil changes. It seems a bit much to me if the real problem is incompetent service technicians spilling oil and not cleaning it up.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Isn’t the real problem a car company that has been in business for decades and doesn’t know that oil gets spilled during oil changes? Maybe this is what happens when you farm out your engineering to Daewoo.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Really, you’re going to throw rocks in a glass house. How short and selective your memory is:

        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-03-02/toyota-plays-down-oil-leak-problems/347486

        …Embattled Toyota says it is voluntarily fixing 1.3 million vehicles in North America for engine oil leaks, but denies the campaign is a recall because it does not affect safety.

        “It is what we call a service campaign,” Toyota spokeswoman Mieko Iwasaki said.

        For the past five months “we’ve been carrying out repairs step by step, sending letters to owners and dealers”, she said.

        The company had first informed North American dealers and car owners of the campaign in October and launched its third phase last week to voluntarily repair the defect, a crack in an engine hose…

        Oil leaks, engine fires, global recalls – oh wait this was due to cracked hoses not lazy techs.

        IT’S A DAEWOO DAMN IT!!!

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Where is the complete conflagration piece of your spin campaign?

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        +1, oil gets spilled during oil changes. My Saturn’s oil filter was directly above a CV boot. Rags, lots of rags for an oil change.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Is this problem from oil spilling onto something when the filter is removed or from oil hitting the aero plate when the drain bolt is removed?

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Weimer

        The drain bolt is clear of the belly pan (and points straight down); you don’t need to remove the pan like some older Audis.

        My guess is that the filter o-ring may not be replaced properly or the filter cap not tightened properly. The engine uses a filter element instead of a spin-on, and it’s at the top of the engine. It’s possible for enough to leak and pool underneath over a period of time to be a fire risk. According to folks I’ve talked with on Cruzetalk, one of whom had a car that prompted this – the fires started a few days after an oil change at their dealer. If a dealer is able to make a mistake that possibly causes this, what about Joe’s 30 minute, $19.95 oil-change place?

        The pan is close to the exhaust in one spot, right where it turns to head underneath the car. Why they’re not just taking that little bit out is probably risk-averse thinking on the part of GM. Better to overdo it once than have to do it twice. This is a manageable disaster; that would be impossible.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Given the numbers and the importance of the Cruze to the new GM, I’d say it’s newsworthy.

    Besides, they deserve it for reneging on their bailout conditons.

    • 0 avatar
      jjster6

      Please explain which bail out conditions GM has reneged on?

      • 0 avatar
        Nick

        That comment was specific to the Canadian portion of their bailout.

      • 0 avatar
        jjster6

        OK Nick. Please, again which bailout conditions did GM renege upon? The article you are sighting about Canada, from the Globe and Mail was titled, “Closing Oshawa line COULD [capitals added] breach GM bailout conditions.” Did you read that? Could, not did! I could rob a bank tomorrow. That doesn’t make me a bank robber.

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    Well on the downside, that’s a lot of vehicles to recall. On the upside, that’s a lot of vehicles they sold. Ey, you gotta take your victories where you can.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Victories, maybe. But just how many of those sold were to fleet sales, and just how many of those sold to fleet sales will have their pan fixed to drain on the ground, before they hit the used-car market?

      What exactly will GM do for those that catch fire after being sold to program-car consumers on the used-car market but were never fixed under this recall by the fleet owners?

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        Valid question of any recall. I’ve seen a lot of Cruzes on the rental car lots….had one last week in fact. Do those rentals get recall related fixes in a timely manner? I don’t know, and would love to know.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I try to refrain from playing editor since TTAC pumps out a large volume of quality content and you can’t catch everything at that pace; however, Derek hit on a peeve of mine in the first sentence.

    Preventative is not a word. The word you want is preventive.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      As a former USMC Motor Transport Officer, I remember having that debate with the Company XO. We decided that preventive was the proper word – back in 1990 (Gawd I’m getting old).

  • avatar
    Loser

    Seems like a very stupid reason for a recall. Our 4Runner and GTO both have pans that will allow oil to collect. Why not a recall for exhaust manifolds that catch fire due to leaks or sloppy/improperly changed engine oil?

    • 0 avatar
      28-cars-later

      I think they are hoping by jumping on the problem proactively they can avoid damaging the goodwill they have built up around their first successful small car, ever.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Yep…My land cruiser should be recalled due to the fact that a leaking rear arch and rear main seal coated pretty much the whole damn underside of the truck in oil. Also when I “improperly” installed the transmission it coated the bottom of the truck and a good portion of the road in ATF.

      Crawl under your vehicles from time to time people.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The two cited recalls were for EVERY Cruze Chevy made. All of em, engine, trans, options didn’t matter; all of em.
    If I had one, could I just sawzall the pan off?

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I remember test driving that Cruze (the exact one in the picture), opening the hood, looking underneath at the plastic shield, and thinking to myself…

    “You know… if I kept this vehicle I would probably just leave that protective covering off.”

    Sad that it took several engine fires to figure it out. But GM is not alone when it comes to not getting everything precisely right the first time.

    We all do it. Even those automakers who are supposedly above the fray of imperfections.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      For today’s modern automobile, it’s not advisable to arbitrarily leave anything off. Nothing is “extra” anymore. The engine’s belly pan is part of heat management, aerodynamics, and the vehicle has been passed a severe durability schedule with the part on. Not off.

      As for TTAC’s policy, this story does lean to gleeful GM bashing. List all the automaker recalls or none.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Our 03 B5 Passat has an aerodynamic tray over the underbody. You had to move the tray to do an oil change. The first time we got an oil change, the tech forgot to bolt it back in. My wife drove down the road with the oil tray scraping the highway. I forget how much it cost to fix: a lot more than the oil change, but we made the company eat the cost. I think that shop stopped doing oil changes on Passats. I always wondered how many shops lied about changing the oil in the first place.

    Regarding TTAC’s recall policy: I think when you have bright line rules that don’t allow for judgment calls, you don’t trust your staff’s judgment. If that’s the case, you probably have the wrong staff. This is an appropriate story because sending a half million Cruzes into the dealers can cause a service nightmare. Also, thinking back to our story about whether or not it’s appropriate for a rental car company to pull a car out of service until a recall is completed; this instance is one that you could probably argue both ways.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’m just worried about the many, many Cruze customers that I see on an average basis, and not just because they were suckered into Daewoods.

    I would think that 50 years later GM would have these recalls sorted out of their manufacturing process.

  • avatar

    So what a big deal? Toyota recalling millions cars for potential fire caused faulty switch. That is a new. GM recalling few thousand Cruses is not a big news. Or is? Because it is American company supported and partially owned by our Presidente?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    My friend’s Cruze is a nice car. The biggest risk of fire he has was the time the mechanic left an oily rag under the hood, near the turbocharger.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    And please don’t report recalls in the future…not worth reading all the bi tc hing about it on here.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    In this modern world, people have become so self-absorbed in their own little world due to the overwhelming amount of gadgets, devices and so forth, that GM, being the kind, caring car company it is, is merely being socially responsible.

    How so? Well, by ordering such a massive recall, this allows at least the owners of the Cruzes to come together at their local dealers and interact with one another face-to-face, rather than electronically, thus ensuring the continuance of personal human contact and foiling the evil designs and intentions of Apple, Inc…

    Next: W-body owners? I can’t wait ;-}

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I change my own oil.
    I don’t spill.
    I check for leaks after job completion.
    Will this screw up my aero? Maybe I don’t want them to cut up my underbody?

  • avatar
    geozinger

    GM recalls = lotsa clicks. I’m one of the Pavlovian responders myself.

    I think that unless it’s a recall on the scale of the Audi or Toyota levels, it shouldn’t be posted here. Those were noteworthy for reasons far beyond the technical.

    I’ve often thought that TTAC loves GM, by pretending to hate GM. Click click click, doggies… No other articles get the levels of response unless GM is in the headline somewhere.

    Nowhere in any media does it say whether or not this is a voluntary recall. I would imagine that it is, but there’s no information.

    FWIW, I’d rather have the company address the issues with the car rather than declaring it as a ‘service campaign’, like other manufacturers do.

    While a service campaign is a legality regarding recalls, there’s no other way to ensure that the most numbers of cars will be modified without a recall; i.e., Ford’s famous flaming ignition switches from a while back.

    Woof!

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      “I’ve often thought that TTAC loves GM, by pretending to hate GM.”

      I seem to remember Farago saying something to the effect that they don’t hate GM, they just expect GM to walk it’s own talk.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    With the editor having been a marketing manager at one point, I suppose you might be correct about getting viewership up. Shi**y way to do it, but probably effective.

  • avatar
    alluster

    Obligatory…

    Narrator: A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don’t do one.
    Business woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?
    Narrator: You wouldn’t believe.
    Business woman on plane: Which car company do you work for?
    Narrator: A major one.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So since TTAC appears to be covering, “significant” recalls – are we going to see a story on today’s Toyota floor mat/gas pedal recall for binding gas pedals on 2009 and 2010 Lexus vehicles – impacting 154K units after customer complaints???

    I mean isn’t a revisit of the NHTSA witch hunt and this new recall, “significant,” given that this story dominated TTAC for over two years???

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Got love weekend data dumps. Especially one before a major holiday.

      Instead we have multi page reviews and series about Toyota cars and their engineers. Especially considering Toyota wasn’t No. 1 in recalls last year, Honda was. Toyota was the year before.


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