General Motors Co. is recalling nearly 500,000 new Chevrolet Cruze cars worldwide to prevent possible engine fires due to fluids trapped in the engine compartment.
The recall covers 413,418 2011-2012 Chevrolet Cruzes in the United States, 61,299 in Canada and 701 in Israel. The large recall covers all Cruze compact cars built since production began in October 2009 in Lordstown, Ohio, through May 31.
GM will modify the engine shield under the vehicle, which will help prevent any liquids from being trapped in the engine compartment, where a fire could start and spread.
GM spokesman Alan Adler said the automaker has received reports of about 30 fires in Cruze models — linked to improper oil changes and other fluids that were trapped in the engine. No injuries, crashes or deaths have been reported in connection with the fires.
Cruze models sold in other markets have a different configuration — except for 10,000 Holden Cruze models sold in Australia. Adler said no fires have been reported in Australia and no decision has been made on whether to recall them for the 2011 and 2012 model years.
The Cruze is a key vehicle for GM. It was the Detroit automaker’s best-selling car in 2011 and the second best-selling compact last year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in March opened a preliminary investigation into the 2011 Cruze after receiving two reports of engine fires that resulted in the total loss of the vehicle. It later added the 2012 Cruze to its investigation.
In a separate safety recall, GM will recall 53,239 2011-2012 Cruze models included in the first recall to assure all welds in the rear compartment were properly applied.
GM thinks just 0.4 percent — or up to 249 cars — may have omitted or partially completed welds that affect the fuel tank strap secondary brackets attachment to the floor structure and a sub assembly to the rear floor pan.
GM said on April 26 a worker noticed the brackets securing the gas tank were loose and lacked stiffness, and notified a supervisor. The company found three out of 3,273 vehicles in the shipping yard with missing welds.
GM says in a severe side crash, a fuel tank with missing welds could leak, which could raise the risk of a fire.
“The most important thing for our customers to know is that we are proactively working to assure the Cruze is the safe and durable car they purchased,” said GM vice president of global quality Alicia Boler-Davis. “We are sorry for any inconvenience caused by these actions.”
All Cruzes with manual and automatic transmissions built in the United States from September 2010 through May 2012 are included in the engine shield modification.
GM is sending a letter to customers next month that will remind them to make sure that after an oil change that proper cleanup of excess fluids is conducted.
The Detroit automaker says improper engine oil change procedures on these vehicles can result in the spilling or dripping of oil. If oil contacts hot engine or exhaust system surfaces, and the engine shield, the shield may ignite and burn, resulting in a possible engine compartment fire.
In Cruzes with manual transmissions, continuing to drive with a completely worn clutch may cause hydraulic fluid to be expelled from the clutch housing vent hole.
Under certain circumstances, the fluid could be burning as it exits the vent hole. If it contacts the engine shield, the shield may ignite and a fire may spread to the engine compartment.
Modifying the engine shield will take about 30 minutes in a Chevrolet dealership service department and will be conducted free of charge.
No parts are involved and customers are encouraged to make an appointment with their dealer at their earliest convenience.
Owner letters will mailed be beginning July 11. Inspection for the possible missing welds takes only a few minutes. In confirmed cases, the repair would take about three hours.