Millions of Vehicles Recalled Due to Fire Risk
In the final two weeks of October 2015, three major automobile makers recalled more than 8 million vehicles between the three of them. Despite three different automakers being involved, the millions of cars all had one thing in common: they all have product defects that put them at an increased risk of starting a fire. Some of the cars impacted by the recent recalls date back as far as the late 1980s and 1990s.
On Wednesday, October 21, 2015, Toyota Motor Corporation suffered the biggest blow, announcing a recall of approximately 6.5 million vehicles due to an issue with power window switches that are prone to overheating and having the potential to start start a fire. Of the 6.5 million vehicles recalled, about 2.7 million are located in the United States, while 1.2 million were sold in Europe and another 600,000 in Japan, according to an email Toyota released. Among the recalled vehicles made outside of Japan are the popular Camry sedan and RAV4 and Highlander SUVs. Particularly, the recall targets vehicles made in Japan between January 2005 and August 2006 and between August 2008 and June 2010; as well as vehicles made outside of Japan during the periods lapsing between August 2005 and 2006 and January 2008 to December 2010.
In the same week, Mazda filed a notice with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announcing it had recalled 1.2 million older model vehicles including 1990-1996 model 323/Protege, 1989-1998 model MPVs, 1993-95 model 929, ’93-’97 year model MX-6, ’92-’92 MX-3, and the wildly popular 1993-1998 model 626. The models were recalled after Mazda established a potential fire risk due to overheating in the ignition switch. The issue first came to light back in 2001, though it was seven years later in 2008 when it was determined the switch failures were due to an accumulation of grease, which was likely caused by normal wear and tear. By 2015, Mazda announced they could not establish a way to resolve the issue, but recognized the safety hazards and recalled the aforementioned vehicles.
General Motors followed Toyota and Mazda in announcing recall notices on October 27, 2015. GM says the recalls are due to fire risks linked oil deposits on the exhaust manifold, an issue for which GM has recalled vehicles four times since 2008. Among those being recalled this time are ’97-’04 Pontiac Grand Prix, 2000-2004 model Chevy Impala, ’98-’99 Chevrolet Lumina, ’98-’04 Monte Carlo, ’98-’99 Oldsmobile Intrigue and Buick Regals made between 1997 and 2004. Particularly, the recall covers vehicles made with 3.8-liter V6 3800 engines.
In a statement made by GM, the automobile company reported 19 minor injuries in the last six years due to the issue, but no crashes or fatalities. However, GM spokesperson Alan Adler said GM had received 1,345 reports of vehicle fires in past recalls. The motor company made recalls in 2008 and 2009 on many of the same models listed in the current recall notice due an issue with vehicles made with a specific valve cover gasket. The issue caused vehicles to catch on fire under the hood, usually within 5 to 15 minutes of parking the automobile. The current recall is expected to be costly, though GM has yet to disclose any estimates.
If you think your car is part of this recall, but aren’t contacted by your car’s manufacturer, the NHTSA has a VIN lookup tool to help you see if there are any outstanding recalls on your car.