If you own one of the 1.2 million older V-6 GM cars that the automaker recalled Tuesday, GM says to keep the car parked outside. The automaker said in a Wednesday dealer memo posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that owners of the cars, which are susceptible to engine fires, should avoid parking them in a garage or other parking structure until the recall is complete — even as an exact remedy is still pending.
The recall affects certain 1997-2004 Buick Regal, 2000-04 Chevrolet Impala, 1998-99 Chevrolet Lumina, 1998-2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1998-99 Oldsmobile Intrigue and 1997-2004 Pontiac Grand Prix sedans and coupes, all with a 3.8-liter V-6 engine. In total, the recall involves 1.41 million cars worldwide, with about 1.2 million in the U.S., according to GM.
Certain affected cars "have a condition in which drops of engine oil may be deposited on the exhaust manifold through hard braking," GM said in an Oct. 21 dealer memo posted by NHTSA. That can cause an engine fire. Three earlier recalls attempted to address the problem, but the resulting repairs "did not adequately remove the safety risk," NHTSA acknowledged in a letter to GM on Thursday. Previously repaired cars will need further repairs under the latest recall.
The condition stems from oil seepage through aging valve covers and gaskets. The automaker has documented nearly 1,350 fires in cars that were fixed in the earlier recalls, GM said in the Wednesday memo. The vast majority (about 85 percent) occurred when the car was empty. Some of the recalled cars were also built after 2004, but GM says it made material changes to the valve covers to reduce the chance of fire.
GM claims the defect caused 19 reported injuries but no deaths during the past six years. The automaker says the cars are still safe to drive.