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GM recalls 140,000 Chevy Malibus for brake flaw

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(General Motors Co. photo) The Malibu recall brings GM's recall count this year to at least 20 covering more than 8 million U.S. vehicles.

By Mike Colias, Crain News Service

DETROIT (May 15, 2014) — General Motors Co. is recalling 140,067 Chevrolet Malibus from the 2014 model year for a problem with the electronic brake control module that can increase the risk of crashes.

The recall covers models with a 2.5-liter engine and a stop/start system, which is the base powertrain.

The cars are prone to having their brake vacuum assist and hydraulic boost assist disabled, in which case “increased brake-pedal effort and stopping distance will be required, increasing the risk of a crash,” GM said in a recall bulletin it sent to U.S. Chevy dealers this week.

A GM spokesman said that GM “will have a recall statement on Thursday (May 15)” but would not comment further.

Meanwhile, GM has hired a law firm to review how information about defective ignition switches in its cars reached board members, The Wall Street Journal reported May 14, citing a person close to the board.

Board members were not apprised of the matter, in which small cars stalled due to faulty switches, and called for a review to ensure vehicle safety issues are brought to their attention quicker, the newspaper reported. The board appointed New York law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz to conduct the review, the Journal said.

Neither GM nor Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz were available for comment.

Accelerated reviews

The latest recall campaign brings GM’s recall count this year to at least 20, covering about 8.5 million U.S. vehicles, although that figure counts some vehicles more than once because they are being called back to fix multiple potential safety defects.

The spate of recalls comes as GM accelerates its review of potential safety problems in the wake of its recall in February of 2.6 million vehicles to correct faulty ignition switches that the company has linked to 35 crashes and 13 deaths.

GM is the subject of at least four federal investigations and is conducting its own probe into the company’s handling of the defective switch, which was used in small cars from model years 2004 to 2011 before GM finally recalled the cars in February.

Pickups targeted

On May 14, the National Legal and Policy Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, posted a letter on its website written to GM CEO Mary Barra requesting that the company recall some 6 million pickups and SUVs from the 1999-2003 model years for brake line corrosion.

The group said that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received 890 complaints about corrosive brake lines in the vehicles, involving 13 crashes and two injuries. NHTSA has been investigating the problem since March 2011, the agency’s Website shows.

Ms. Barra has vowed to prevent future lapses by “redoubling” GM’s safety focus.

Last month, GM said it had boosted its team of product investigators to 55, up from 20 previously. The investigators analyze reports of crashes, customer complaints, lawsuits and other data relayed to the company that could indicate a safety problem.

That team reports to Jeff Boyer, who was appointed in March to a newly created post of global safety chief. GM also has created a system internally that encourages employees to speak up if they see a potential safety problem.


Reuters and reporter Nick Bunkley contributed to this report, which appeared on, the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.

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