Detroit, Michigan — For the owners of 189,000 General Motors SUVs, the days of parking them outside the garage for fear that they could catch fire will soon come to an end.
The company, in documents posted Wednesday by U.S. safety regulators, said it will start notifying customers this week that they can take their SUVs to dealers, who will replace faulty power window switches.
The recall of SUVs, mostly from the 2006 and 2007 model years, was announced June 30, but it took more than four months to get replacement parts ready. It covers the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 97-X, mainly in North America. It was the third recall for the same problem, but the first two didn't work.
Water can get inside the window switch on the driver's side, causing rust and possibly an electrical short circuit. That can cause them to overheat and catch fire, and it also can cause them to stop working or raise or lower themselves.
The problem was so serious that GM told customers to park the SUVs outside until they can be fixed, and the company ordered dealers to stop selling the SUVs as used vehicles until repairs are made. The switches could even malfunction with the vehicle parked and the key removed.
Letters that will be mailed out starting Thursday urge customers to contact dealers as soon as possible to make a service appointment. And yes, they still need to be parked outside until dealers replace the power window switch module. The work will be done for free.
GM received reports of at least 28 fires but no injuries. Earlier fixes by GM included a protective coating around the window switch circuit board, which is less costly than replacing the switches. But GM kept getting complaints about switches malfunctioning in repaired vehicles, so it decided to do another recall.
GM has recalled more than 30 million vehicles so far this year, including a major small-car ignition switch problem that has claimed at least 32 lives. The recalls came after the company conducted a review of unresolved safety issues.