By on July 20, 2015

burntmain

Last week, we learned General Motors was recalling the majority of their Hummer H3 and H3T models due to a fire risk from a melting blower motor resistor and harness. We also learned GM didn’t issue the recall until they were threatened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A few days ago, Jalopnik’s Michael Ballaban pointed out the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon were also at risk due to similar components. These trucks may not be the last of the affected models as the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky also shared many HVAC components with the Hummer H3.

Searching through the NHTSA complaints database and user forums yielded many examples of melted and burnt blower motor resistors and harnesses for the GM roadster twins.

The Solstice and Sky actually have more parts in common with the H3 than even the Colorado and Canyon. While the trucks use a similar resistor with four pins, the Solstice and Sky use the same 5-pin resistor as the H3. Curiously enough, the roadsters and H3/H3T share a host of HVAC components, including the blower motor, blend door actuators and even the heater core.

Searching Solstice and Sky forums also produced case after case of melted harnesses and resistors. Many of the owners were buying the parts and replacing them on their own.

saturn1

The problem may stem from a harness that is either too short or too loose, causing arcing on the connection and resulting in melted components. The initial part number for the harness is 25797383, but it is no longer available under that number. The initial part was succeeded and released as part number 25867517 — then again as 25949869, the part that is currently available for purchase.

Part numbers can change for many reasons, including vendor changes, but I speculate in this case that GM may have changed the part to try and remedy its issues.

saturn2

Based on NHTSA records, the earliest complaints for the roadsters started showing up in 2008.

While the number of complaints for the Solstice and Sky is much lower than the H3, lower production numbers must also be taken into account when comparing total complaint counts to the H3. Despite fairly widespread issues with similar parts found on the H3,owners of Kappa-platform cars haven’t reported problems at the same rate.

The H3 recall states dealers should replace the harness and resistor module, both of which are shared parts. The 2006 Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent use the same part number for the resistor as the H3, Sky and Solstice. There are cases of multiple failures and, as noted in the complaint below, they also show GM was directly notified of the issue. The Equinox and Torrent moved to a different resistor design after 2006 and the issues seem to have been mitigated after that point.

equinox1
GM has not issued any recalls or bulletins for these other vehicles, even though complaints and pictures of damage appear to match the H3 issues. The part number changes could be an attempt by GM to remedy the issue before a recall was required, but as we have seen before, GM can take up to a decade to actually acknowledge issues and will keep silent and order parts to try and quietly repair vehicles.

The proof is out there and the right thing for GM to do is recall all of the related models.

[Image Source: hammy221/solsticeforum.com]

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30 Comments on “Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky Share Same Fire-Risk Parts with Hummer H3...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm this makes me wonder about the black Solstice I’ve glimpsed sitting in a driveway a few blocks from the golf course in one of Gallup’s better neighborhoods. The car has been sitting there with one flat tire for months – like a modern day Triumph Spitfire.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    “The Solstice and Sky actually have more parts in common with the H3 than even the Colorado and Canyon. While the trucks use a similar resistor with four pins…”

    I guess now everyone will start calling the H3 a solstice with a body kit?

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    Interesting! I already knew my 07 Sky Red Line shared many parts with the H3 Hummer when it came to the cooling system, which was poorly designed mind you. You had to put in valves to keep air bubbles from forming and overheating the car.

    Great article, didn’t know about it. Our car gets driven quite a bit with 70k+ miles on it. I’d like to drive it more, but hard when you carpool to work :(

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    This article reads like a press release from the Island of Misfit GM Vehicles. They are all cobbled together with what could be found laying around various warehouses in Flint and Saginaw.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    GM should turn lemons into lemonade by having a consumer-centric marketing/recall campaign that combines strong messaging with the beat of today’s and yesterday’s hits. Some songs for the soundtracks:

    “I’m On Fire”
    “Burning for You”
    “We Didn’t Start the Fire”
    “Light My Fire”
    “Panic In Detroit”
    “Safety Dance”

    Takata could join in with its own ad, accompanied by Radiohead’s “Airbag” (of course.)

  • avatar
    STRATOS

    Why did they need the 5 speed blower in the first place? Why can’t Gm be more like Honda who uses the same parts on motorcycles that also fit their cars.Different part numbers but same specs.No part should be specific to one model.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Because Americans want to keep their balls nice and cold in the summer.

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      This melting the harness can happen to Hondas as well. I’ve read on acurazine about melting blower resistor harness on second gen TL/CL…

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        This is a problem with a lot of vehicles, not just GM products or Honda/Acura products. Jeep Wranglers (I own 2 of them) are quite well known for resistor failures as well as harnesses melting at the HVAC control head, no problems with mine so far though. Unfortunately it seems a lot of manufacturers cut corners on HVAC related wiring/connectors and blower motor resistors.

        Another area where you see manufacturers cut corners is headlamp wiring harnesses. Many of them run the full circuit through the switch inside the car, rather than just use that switch to activate a relay which carries the full battery voltage. This ends up sending these headlamp switches to an early grave and have been the cause of many recalls as well.

  • avatar
    STRATOS

    Or warm in the winter,but adding speeds does not make the top one any faster.

  • avatar
    SpinnyD

    Didn’t GM have this same problem with the blowers on the pickups? I know one of my co-workers had to replace his blower on his 200? Chevy pickup and I remember him saying they were a known issue at the time.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    GM seems to have this problem with many vehicles. I’ve had a GMC Safari and a Chevy Astro with blower resistor connectors that look just like the one pictured. No fires have occured, but the blower won’t run on High because the connector is burnt. My 07 Impala had a failure of the rear window defroster grid. An internet search revealed a problem with the electrical connector for that circuit located behind the right kick panel. It, too was burnt and not making connection. GM electrical engineers must not be able to figure out proper wire sizes for the circuit loads.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      We had a 2000 Cougar with intermittent power issues, most obvious at night because the headlights would flicker in intensity. The problem was traced to the wire from fuse box to alternator being too small a gauge. The factory “fix” was to cut the wire at the alternator and jump it to the battery wire, thus rendering the alternator permanently energized 24/7.

      Getting back to this incident, although it’s just one more in a long train of second-class part designs, at least in this case GM did the correct thing and gave the revised harness a new and unique part number. Imagine how much simpler the switch recall would have been if this practice had been followed there.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….The factory “fix” was to cut the wire at the alternator and jump it to the battery wire, thus rendering the alternator permanently energized 24/7…

        The batt terminal on an alternator always has battery power to it, unless there has been a recent change in design. Been that way forever. What Ford did here was provide a larger wire with a bigger ampacity.

        GM W bodies also are affected by this. Ours lunched the resistor, and the replacement lost high speed awhile after this replacement. Have to check to see if a burnt wire is why.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      GM has a looong history of this. Just off tge top of my head, this gas been a common failure in the Express/Savana, second gen Blazer/Bravada/Jimmy/S10/Sonoma, the whole GMT800 line, generation 1.5, 2, and 3 W Body, last gen H/G/K body, and was previously well known in the Colorado/Canyon. In some of these cars, blower motors and resistors are almost wear items with a 40k change interval. Chrysler has had problems, too, especially in the last-gen Ram, first gen Durango and second and third gen Grand Cherokee.

  • avatar
    Turbo Is Black Magic

    I’m currently deployed in a nice inhospitable sandy location and every single one of our Chevy 1 ton trucks that we use inside the wire has had this harness catch fire and or melt… nothing like using 2×45 AC during a nice 135 degree summer afternoon. I will never buy a GM vehicle as long as I live and I feel bad for the taxpayers that had to pay for these. No problems with the few Fords or Dodges by the way….

  • avatar
    wmba

    Yes, car companies spend thousands of hours designing this and that whatnot to eke out another 0.05 mpg.

    Meanwhile, the trusty, ha, ha, fan motor gets a resistor pack to control speed, wasting energy as heat on all but the high setting. and it’s not just GM. everybody’s resistor packs go bad, as a Google search will show. Wires too small, resistors too small and get too hot trying to give off heat. Just lousy penny-pinching design, subscribed to by everyone.

    It’s like wiper blades – no advance since 1936, when they took them off the windshield header and put them on the cowl instead. Roof drip channels – worked so well, everyone started leaving them off for looks alone, before aero was a big word.

    Sometimes, you just gotta shake yer head.

  • avatar
    KEFarris

    This article may have just answered a big question. I have a 2008 Sky. I have been smelling a melting plastic smell on the driver side starting last summer. I parked the vehicle because I could trace the problem and didn’t want to drive it while something was melting. Repair shop couldn’t figure it out either.


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