August 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm

GM recalling 1,968 cars for braking defect

Washington— General Motors Co. is launching its 61st recall in the United States this year, calling back about 2,000 cars after discussions with government regulators about braking issues. And additional recalls are coming.

The recall affects 1,968 models of the 2009-10 Chevrolet Aveo and the 2009 Pontiac G3 sold in the U.S. They were built by Hyundai in Korea and exported to the United States. GM says brake fluid may not prevent rust in the braking system, which could reduce braking.

The callback of the Aveo and G3 is for the same defect that caused the 2013 recall of 43,500 2009-12 Hyundai Genesis sedans. On Thursday, Hyundai agreed to pay NHTSA a $17.35 million civil penalty for delaying its recall.

GM had previously issued a customer satisfaction program for the issue, but not a recall, “because we had no complaints or warranty claims for the issue here,” GM spokesman Alan Adler said. No crashes or injuries have been reported.

NHTSA found that Hyundai had been aware in 2012 that brake fluid used in the 2009-12 Hyundai Genesis did not sufficiently inhibit corrosion in the brake system. Rather than issue a recall, Hyundai instructed dealers to change brake fluid without explaining the consequences of not doing so. Hyundai issued the recall in October.

GM is recalling it Hyundai-built cars after discussions with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Adler said 66 percent of the 1,968 vehicles have had repairs made under its customer satisfaction program.

GM last publicly announced recalls on July 22, but NHTSA has been taking additional time to review some recalls before making them public. Adler said GM has has told NHTSA about an unspecified number of additional recalls, but GM hasn’t yet made them public.

GM has issued a record 61 recall campaigns so far this year. They cover 25.8 million vehicles in the United States and 28.8 million worldwide.

In May, GM paid a $35 million fine to NHTSA for delaying its callback of 2.6 million cars with defective ignition switches that are linked to at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes. GM is also under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York aided by a grand jury, the Securities and Exchange Commission and 45 state attorneys general. It has launched a victims compensation fund and expects to pay at least $400 million for claims; the fund has received about 100 claims.

NHTSA said in its Hyundai consent order that in 2012, the supplier of the hydraulic electronic control unit installed in the Genesis cars informed both Hyundai and GM of a potential problem.

The order said the supplier told both Hyundai and GM told that internal testing suggested brake fluids prevalent in the Korean market did not sufficiently inhibit corrosion on certain critical components of the brake system. Among other things, corrosion resulting from the use of this fluid could inhibit or stop the operation of electronically actuated valves within the hydraulic electronic control unit. That could lead to a low or soft brake pedal and diminish braking.

In January 2012 and again in September 2012, GM initiated a recall in 67 foreign countries to replace the brake fluid in vehicles pairing the suspect brake fluid with the suspect unit.

In November 2012, GM issued a technical service bulletin to its dealers in the United States to replace the brake fluid, inspect the ABS module and replace it if necessary. The bulletin explained potential consequence if the fix wasn’t made. GM notified its customers; Hyundai did not, NHTSA said.

In March 2012, the supplier of the unit upgraded the finish of the valves and the changed part was placed into the production of Genesis vehicles.

While there have been no fatalities reported as a result of the defect, six Hyundai owners reported collisions and two people have been injured. By Jan. 14, Hyundai had received 87 complaints, most of them about difficulty in braking.

NHTSA said it has no plans to fine GM.

“Unlike Hyundai, GM initiated a customer service campaign in 2012, which included notifying its customers of the issue and the potential consequences if the remedy was not performed,” NHTSA said in a statement.