Latest GM recalls bring total to nearly 30M vehicles

David Shepardson and Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. issued two new recalls Friday, bringing its global total for 2014 to 72 recalls and a still-climbing record 29.95 million vehicles.

The latest callbacks cover 524,000 vehicles worldwide, including one linked to three injuries. Detroit-based GM also said it was halting sales of its new midsize Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks, after discovering an electrical flaw that could cause the air bags to misfire.

Friday's actions, on top of Thursday's recall of 117,000 vehicles due to a potential stalling problem, are the latest signs that the Detroit automaker still faces a number of quality and safety issues months after it began its record-setting callbacks.

General Motors announced two more recalls, pushing its total for the year to more than 70, affecting almost 30 million vehicles in North America. The biggest of Friday recalls covers just over 290,000 Cadillac SRX and Saab 9-4X SUVs in the U.S.

In total, GM's North American unit has recalled 26.4 million in the U.S. alone this year. Since recalling 2.6 million vehicles in February for ignition problems now linked to at least 23 deaths, the automaker has issued six dozen recall campaigns.

After it paid a record-setting $35 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in May, as a result of the ignition switch problem, GM agreed to unprecedented oversight by NHTSA for up to three years. It holds regular meetings with the agency to discuss all possible safety issues. CEO Mary Barra faced four separate congressional hearings over the handling of the ignition-switch recall.

GM said Friday its recall in Canada and China of vehicles for suspension problems was expanding to include 290,000 U.S. SUVs for loose nuts that have been linked to three crashes and two injuries. The recall affects 2010-15 Cadillac SRX and 2011-12 Saab 9-4X SUVs.

Dealers will inspect for the condition and, if necessary, install a new link assembly. Vehicles still on dealer lots will be checked and fixed before they are sold.

GM also said it is recalling nearly 90,000 2013-15 Chevrolet Spark subcompacts in the U.S. because rust can cause the secondary hood latch striker to stick in the open position. If the primary latch is not closed, the hood could open unexpectedly. The vehicles are imported from South Korea.

The midsize Colorado and Canyon trucks are arguably GM's most important new vehicles of the year.

GM said Friday it had instructed dealers to halt sales of the new Colorados and Canyons, which just began arriving at dealerships, because of an air bag problem. But it said it had found a fix, and trucks would be repaired starting Saturday. GM dealers will reprogram the inflatable restraint sensing and diagnostic module and then sales can begin again.

"They're recalling a vehicle that they just launched, which doesn't ever sound or look particularly good," Kelley Blue Book automotive analyst Karl Brauer said. "But the good news is they're calling it when they just launched it, not recalling it five years later when there's already been injuries or issues because of those situations."

A company spokesman said GM doesn't know of any crashes, injuries or fatalities connected to the problem. Customers are being notified by overnight letter as well as being contacted by phone to bring their trucks to a dealer as soon as possible; they'll get free loaners.

GM said Friday it had ordered a halt to sales of the 2015 trucks because they "contain driver airbag connections that were wired incorrectly during the manufacturing process." That means the two-stage airbag system could reverse the deployment sequence and disrupt the deployment timing of the driver airbag stages. This condition will cause the driver airbags to not function as designed.

GM says it expects the recall will cover about 2,200 vehicles — and fewer than 50 are in customers' hands. It knows of no crashes or injuries related to the issue.

The automaker is returning to the midsize pickup segment after a two-year absence. Many customers have switched to full-size pickups, crossovers and cars. Sales of smaller trucks in the U.S. peaked in 1986 at about 1.4 million sales and totaled about 227,000 last year. Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC stopped building smaller trucks a few years ago and GM is touting its three truck size strategy to consumers including its full-size and heavy-duty trucks.