By Mike Colias, Crain News Service
DETROIT (May 16, 2014) — General Motors Co. is recalling 2.7 million U.S. cars and trucks for problems ranging from flawed brake lights and windshield wipers to brake problems, an escalation of the safety crisis that has enveloped the company for months.
GM said May 15 it expects to book up to $200 million in charges in the second quarter to cover the cost of recalls during the period. It took a $1.3 billion recall-related charge in the first quarter.
The recalled vehicles include a mix of newer models as well as older ones for potential flaws that GM had flagged years ago. The largest covers 2.4 million model year mid-sized cars from the 2004 to 2012 model years, including the Chevrolet Malibu, to fix a faulty brake lamp wiring harness that GM has linked to 13 crashes and two injuries but no fatalities.
The campaigns increase GM's count since Jan. 1 to 24 recalls covering more than 11.2 million U.S. vehicles and 12.8 million across the globe, although those figures count some vehicles more than once because they are being called back to fix multiple potential safety defects.
In less than five months this year, GM has recalled about six times the number of vehicles that it had been recalling annually in recent years. From 2009 to 2013, it averaged 19 safety recalls covering 1.8 million vehicles.
Overall, GM said the latest recalls cover nearly 3 million vehicles worldwide.
The spate of recalls comes as GM accelerates its review of potential safety problems in the wake of its recall of 2.6 million small cars to correct faulty ignition switches that the company has linked to 35 crashes and 13 deaths.
The recalls announced May 15:
• 2.44 million 2004-12 Malibu; 2004-07 Malibu Maxx; 2005-10 Pontiac G6 and 2007-10 Saturn Auras to modify the brake lamp wiring harness.
GM said the vehicles could have corrosion in the wiring harness for the body control module, which could result in brake lamps failing to illuminate, or could cause brake lamps to light up when they're not supposed to.
The condition also could disable cruise control, traction control, electronic stability control and panic braking assist, GM said.
GM said it's aware of “several hundred complaints” and 13 crashes but no fatalities. It said it issued a technical service bulletin in 2008 and conducted a smaller safety campaign of 2005 model year vehicles in January 2009.