General Motors Recalling 1.4 Million Cars for Increased Fire Risk

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

General Motors announced Tuesday that the automaker would recall 1.3 million cars for an oil leak that could ignite, Reuters reported.

According to the report, 1,345 fires have been reported in cars that were repaired for similar issues under two previous recalls. In six years, 19 minor injuries were reportedly caused by leaking oil.

According to the automaker, the following models with 3.8-liter V-6 3800 engines are affected by the recall:

• 1997-2004 Pontiac Grand Prix
• 2000-2004 Chevrolet Impala
• 1998-1999 Chevrolet Lumina
• 1998-2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
• 1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue
• 1997-2004 Buick Regal

According to The Detroit News, this would be the fourth time the automaker has recalled the cars for the issue. In 2008 and 2009, GM recalled the cars for the fire risk.

In those instances, owners were told not to park their vehicles in garages because of the increased fire risk. GM spokesman Alan Adler told the Detroit News that owners may be told the same thing this time.

Earlier recall repair work focused on valve cover gaskets and spark plug retainers. It’s unclear how GM will fix those cars under the current recall.

(Our own Sajeev Mehta has fielded questions about the oil leak before.)

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7 of 36 comments
  • Geozinger Geozinger on Oct 28, 2015

    Gotta love TTAC. Lots to say about this recall, but nothing about the worldwide recall of flaming Toyota power window switches.

    • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Oct 28, 2015

      Or the recent Chrysler fire recall either. You can always count on TTAC to get each and every recall on GM's front page but virtually nothing on Toyota/Honda etc!

  • Frantz Frantz on Oct 28, 2015

    On of those was my parents neighbors, they lost their house. My childhood friend lost his car in a parking lot. Both on this list.

    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Oct 29, 2015

      One cloudy Friday afternoon (when I happened to be off from work), a colleague of mine ran into one of the manager's offices in my department, stating that there was a lot of activity in the parking lot across the street -- it appeared someone's car was on fire! On the way over to the window, the colleague asked if he parks over there. Yes. Of course, it WAS the manager's Grand Prix that was burning to a crisp! (Oddly, the fire personnel were just about to break in to the car to attempt to find documentation to figure out whose it was, and the car's owner, without thinking, hit the unlock button on the fob as he arrived on the scene, and the damn car responded and unlocked the doors, despite the battery having melted by that time!) He had received a recall notice, the first one, THREE DAYS BEFORE! (I believe his insurance company was able to subrogate to get their payout back from The General.)

  • Ponchoman49 Ponchoman49 on Oct 28, 2015

    The only leaks we ever noted on these engines were valve cover/intake related. The plastic coolant elbow is also susceptible to fracturing requiring replacement. A metal upgrade is available and every 3800 series II that leaves our dealership gets one. But come on some of these cars are approaching 20 years of age on this list so it shouldn't be too surprising that the valve covers need replacing by now. After replacing these two items we have never seen or heard of any fires from any cars we sold so I suspect this is Barra being overly cautious just like with the ignition switch thing recalling my Impala even though those cars didn't really have this issue. The question is what are they replacing this time exactly and why are only the W-body cars affected?

    • Redmondjp Redmondjp on Oct 28, 2015

      My question precisely - what is different between the H-body and the W-body on the engine itself? Maybe it's the tighter engine compartment that concentrates the heat more? I know the engine compartment on my 2001 Lesabre is spacious by modern standards.

  • Olddavid Olddavid on Oct 28, 2015

    Our designated driver-ed and UPull hauler Regal Series II Supercharged is actually eligible for a recall? I don't think it has an original seal on the engine - head gasket excepted. (Thinking to himself...) No, the timing cover has never been off. I didn't respect this car when new, and that was very near-sighted of me. While the radio and various switches go dark regularly, this car starts in -30 or plus 120, goes like stink (relatively) and has a good driving position and visibility. I have no doubt it will still be insured when my grandchildren need lessons. Recall? We don't need no stinking recall.......