Washington — General Motors Co. said it has repaired 39 percent of 377,000 full-size pickups recalled this month for fire risks linked to a software glitch.
The Detroit automaker said Thursday it has reports of 11 fires — up from the initial eight reported on Jan. 10 — with the most recent fire reported in Duluth, Minn. The automaker is urging owners not to let their trucks idle until they are repaired. All of the fires have been reported in cold weather states.
Also on Thursday, GM said it revised its preliminary recall numbers. GM is recalling 324,970 vehicles in the U.S. — up from its initial estimate of 303,000 — and another 53,000 outside the United States for a total of 377,888.
GM recalled the 2014 Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras with 4.3L or 5.3L engines to reprogram software that could lead to overheating of exhaust components, potentially causing engine compartment fires.
GM reached out to owners who might be at the highest risk of a fire. GM sent letters to nearly 600 owners that had at least one reported “trouble code” out of 12 possible codes that could put owners at a higher risk of a fire. It also sent emails to other customers with the same codes.
“GM tries to put the customer first in everything we do. When we learned of trouble codes being set that were associated with this issue, we were able to reach out to these customers by email and overnight letter,” GM spokesman Alan Adler said.
Most of those fixed were unsold trucks on dealer lots that by law can’t be sold until the software had been upgraded.
GM told owners in the recall letter that if the check engine light illuminates and the “Engine Power is Reduced” message appears to “turn the vehicle off immediately and call your GM dealer to have your vehicle towed to the dealership. Until you have had your vehicle serviced, please do not let your vehicle idle.”
The 2014 Silverado was named North American Truck of the Year last week at the North American International Auto Show.
When the truck idles, it should use two cylinders. But because of a software glitch, the recalled trucks idle with most of the cylinders. That causes the vehicles to overheat and leads to fires.
The potential hazard is signaled by a continuous yellow “check engine light” and an “engine power reduced” message in the driver information center.
On Jan. 10, GM confirmed eight fires caused by the software flaw, three of which were on customer-owned vehicles, but said nobody was hurt. All incidents were in areas with very cold weather, the Detroit-based automaker said, and four of the fires were in trucks still at dealerships.
One of the fires was on an employee’s company-owned vehicle, whose garage was damaged. The problem was discovered in part because more trucks were being left to idle for longer periods during the recent extreme cold. All of the fires were reported in December and January.
In July, GM recalled about 900 2014 Silverado and Sierra pickups to replace passenger air bags that may be defective.