May 20, 2014 at 9:44 pm

GM smashes its U.S. recall record

Washington — General Motors Co.’s growing recall crisis shows no sign of ending, as the Detroit automaker issued four new and expanded recalls Tuesday totaling 2.79 million vehicles worldwide — shattering the company’s all-time record for most recalled in a single year.

So far this year, GM has recalled 13.6 million vehicles in the United States. An undisclosed number of additional cars are expected to be called back today in two additional campaigns. Less than five months into the year, GM has surpassed its annual record of 10.7 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. in 2004.

With 15.6 million vehicles recalled worldwide so far in 27 campaigns, GM has surpassed Toyota Motor Corp’s recall tally stemming from its sudden acceleration crisis. In a detailed review of recall numbers since 2000, no automaker has come close to GM’s recall count. Ford Motor Co. recalled 21 million vehicles in 1981, but it was only to warn them that 1970-79 cars and trucks could roll away — not to make any mechanical fix.

GM said it now expects to take a $400 million charge in the second quarter for the growing number of cars and trucks that must be fixed, up from the $200 million announced just last Thursday. And that’s on top of the $1.3 billion first-quarter charge that it took for recall-related expenses.

Investors frowned on the news Tuesday, driving GM stock down 3.45 percent, to $33.07 a share. The company’s stock has fallen more than 18 percent since the beginning of the year.

GM has stepped up the pace of its recall campaigns as it tries to show it is more responsive to safety concerns since it was learned that the company knew for years of problems with ignition switches in some vehicles. Several key safety officials at the automaker have left, retired or been moved to new positions. It has added 35 product investigators since the beginning of 2014 and is taking a look at all outstanding issues.

On Friday, GM paid a record-setting $35 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to recall in a timely fashion 2.6 million vehicles linked to 13 deaths due to the defective ignition switches. The automaker admitted it broke the law in the settlement that will require intensive monitoring and monthly meetings with NHTSA to discuss all pending safety issues over a three-year period.

GM also is bracing for the fallout of an internal report into what went wrong over the course of the decade of delays in issuing the ignition-switch recalls. Two congressional committees plan to bring GM CEO Mary Barra back to testify for a second round of hearings. The Justice Department, Securities and Exchange Commission and at least one state attorney general are investigating.

The White House declined to comment on whether the spate of GM recalls suggest the government didn’t exercise proper oversight during the nearly five years when it owned a significant stake in the automaker as part of the $49.5 billion bailout.

“What’s absolutely important as a general principle is every automobile manufacturer — foreign or domestic — be held accountable when it comes to safety matters,” spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

GM says no reports of deaths are linked to any of the four new recall campaigns announced Tuesday.

■In the latest round of recalls, GM said it is calling back worldwide about 1.51 million (1.07 million in the U.S.) 2009-14 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia full-size crossovers and 2009-10 Saturn Outlooks because front seat belt cables can fatigue and separate over time. In a crash, a separated cable could increase risk of injury to front-seat passengers.

GM has told dealers they cannot sell new or used models until repairs are made — what in the industry is called a stop-sale order.

Russ Shelton, owner of Shelton Buick GMC in Rochester Hills, said the dealership got word late Monday of the stop-sale order. He said he has not received information on when dealers will receive parts.

Shelton said safety is the top concern for customers, so he is OK with GM’s decision. But the dealership was having a good month selling the big SUVs and he’s sure some customer deliveries will be delayed.

“That’s our No. 1-selling vehicle,” Shelton said in an interview. “I’m sure we’ll have a few people waiting until we get this cleared up.”

The SUVs are built at GM’s Lansing Delta Township Plant. Plant spokeswoman Erin Davis said despite the recall, production has not been affected. GM will repair vehicles on-site once it receives parts.

“We are pulling ahead a part change previously scheduled for the 2015 model year,” Davis said. “We will build out the 2014 models through this month and repair them with the new parts before shipping them.”

■The automaker also is recalling 1.28 million (1.12 million in the U.S.) 2004-08 Chevrolet Malibu and 2005-08 Pontiac G6 cars equipped with four-speed automatic transmissions because a shift cable could wear out, resulting in mismatches of the gear position indicated by the shift lever. This expands a recall of the 2007-08 Saturn Aura announced in April.

The Malibu and G6 cars equipped with a four-speed automatic have a condition in which the transmission shift cable may fracture. When the fracture occurs, the driver may be unable to select a different gear, remove the key from the ignition or place the transmission in park.

GM is aware of 18 crashes and one injury in the Malibu and G6 because of the problem. Dealers will replace the shift cable and attachment bracket.

Also on the callback list: 1,500 (1,402 in the U.S.) 2015 Cadillac Escalades and Escalade ESVs because an insufficiently heated plastic weld that attaches the passenger-side air bag to the instrument panel assembly could result in only partial deployment of the air bag.

GM stopped sale of the 2015 Escalade and Escalade ESV, which just began arriving in showrooms last month. It sent overnight letters, called and emailed the 224 customers who already had taken delivery of the vehicles. The company instructed customers to not let occupants sit in the front passenger seat until the vehicle has been serviced. GM knows of no crashes or injuries associated with the Escalade air bag problem.

The issue has been corrected at the supplier and Escalade production has resumed at the Arlington, Texas, assembly plant.

■The automaker also announced the recall of 58 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD full-size pickups equipped with a 220-amp generator. Clips attaching the generator fuse block can become loose and lead to a fire.

No crashes or injuries are known to be associated with the issue.

dshepardson@detroitnews.com
Staff Writer Melissa Burden contributed.

2014 Buick Enclave / GM