GM recalls 51K Sparks, Sonics for radio software issue

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Wednesday it is recalling nearly 51,000 2014-15 Chevrolet Sparks and 2015 Chevrolet Sonics in the U.S. and Canada for a radio software issue that can cause vehicle chimes for not wearing a seat belt and leaving a key in the ignition to stop working.

GM said the recall includes 45,785 vehicles in the U.S. and 4,568 in Canada. The automaker says it is not aware of any crashes, injuries or deaths related to the issue.

The problem affects certain vehicles that have a base radio and OnStar. GM said the software may cause the radio to lock up while people use OnStar Turn-by-Turn Directions, causing radio displays to go blank. If that happens, audio functions stop working.

Federal regulators say the issue can increase the risk of theft and if drivers or passengers don’t use their seat belts, it could increase the risk that they would be injured in a crash.

GM said the issue may cause the radio not to turn off, which could drain the battery and prevent the cars from starting.

In a notice to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, GM said it decided to recall the vehicles on June 17. That was after reviewing warranty claims and receiving a Speak up for Safety case from a GM employee for a radio lockup issue at the GM Tech Center service garage.

Dealers will re-flash the radio software for free.