GM recalls 73,000 2010 Cobalt cars for wiring

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — General Motors Co. said Thursday it is recalling 73,000 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt sedans because some may have been built with improperly routed side impact wiring that could prevent an air bag from deploying in a crash.

The Detroit automaker said it has a report of one injury and crash related to the issue.

GM said the new call back is not related to the 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles — including the 2005-2010 Cobalt — for ignition switch defects that are linked to nearly 400 deaths and injuries. The recall includes about 60,000 Cobalt cars in the United States, and 13,000 in Canada. In that recall, the faulty ignition switches in the off or accessory mode could result in the air bags failing to deploy in a frontal crash.

GM said the new recall issue is related to the sensor wire harness routing in the left front door. When improperly routed, the window regulator could contact the harness when the window is fully lowered and over time chafe the harness insulation. That could result in a short circuit preventing the driver side roof rail air bag from deploying during a crash. Dealers will inspect all suspect vehicles and any found with the condition will be repaired.

GM said the warning light would display that the air bag was malfunctioning before a crash.

The number of vehicles GM has recalled in 2015 has fallen sharply. To date, GM has recalled 2.2 million vehicles in 26 campaigns. By contrast, GM recalled 27 million vehicles in the United States in 2014 in a record setting 84 recall campaigns.

By this point last year, GM had already issued 66 campaigns covering more than 25 million vehicles.

Electrical wiring issues have led to a number of recent recalls. Volvo Cars in June recalled about 600 2016 XC90 SUVs for a front-seat wiring harness routing problem that could lead to the front seat side impact air bag becoming inoperable, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In July, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it was recalling 660,000 2011-2014 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVS because wiring for the vanity lamp in the sun visor may short circuit and cause a fire. That came in response to a NHTSA investigation.

NHTSA is now investigating the recall fix. The Fiat Chrysler remedy consists of a plastic guide way installed on each sun visor that routes the wiring away from the attachment screws preventing the wiring from being shorted. NHTSA has received 8 reports of fires occurring after the remedy was installed, with some occupants complaining of smoke sometimes followed by flames erupting in the headliner.

Last year, Mitsubishi Motors North America recalled about 700 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport SUVs with leather seats to fix a wiring routing problem. The driver side seat-mounted air bag wiring may have been improperly routed during the leather seat cover installation process.

Ford Motor Co. in 2011 recalled about 1.2 million vehicles over air bags that could deploy without warning because of a wire routing problem.

NHTSA reviewed complaints that said 238 driver air bags on 2004-06 F-150 vehicles inadvertently deployed without warning causing 77 injuries. The injuries included chipped and broken teeth, cuts to the arm, hand and face, lacerations and minor burns. Two owners reported a loss of consciousness as a result of air bag deployment.

In response to reports of inadvertent air bag deployments, Ford in January 2006 made a stop-gap change to the 2006 F-150 by adding a protective tape over the sharp metal edges of the horn plate. For the 2007 model year, Ford changed the air bag wire routing, added a better wire protector sleeve and redesigned the horn plate tooling to eliminate the potential of a sharp edge.

NHTSA found that the F-150 driver-side air bag wires can be chafed by a sharp metal edge of the horn plate during normal vehicle operations or due to road vibrations. Once the wire insulation is cut, a short can cause the air bag to deploy.