A brake issue that first became apparent almost five years ago has resulted in a recall of almost 3.5 million General Motors large pickups and SUVs. So far, the brake problem has caused 113 accidents and 13 injuries. It has also been responsible for hundreds of complaints fielded by federal regulators at the NHTSA. You can find more details on the GM recall here.
Complaints about the brake problem were so so high that the NHTSA finally opened an investigation into the matter last fall. The NHTSA received over 480 complaints earlier this year about the hard-to-press pedals. According to Automotive News, this affects more vehicles than GM has recalled over the entire last two years combined.
Why A Massive GM Recall?
The problem occurs at lower speeds when there is a loss of vacuum pump assist making it harder to press the pedal. GM says the repair is to reprogram the brake control module. It also says that in spite of a large number of vehicles the cost will be negligible to the company.
The NHTSA says that GM has known about this for years, and its response was to take lesser actions. First, GM issued a service bulletin in February 2015. Then it sent a series of updates to dealers over the next few years. From there, it offered a warranty extension earlier this year, and then a customer-satisfaction campaign last month.
The timing was coincidental as it occurred the very day that GM started its Global Safety Week, which was initiated after the ignition-switch defect scandal that was found to have been basically ignored for 10 years before a number of deaths were reported. Global Safety Week focusses on reminding employees to commit to safety first for all of its projects.
“We dedicated ourselves to work together to solve this problem,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “And until we get to a company where we have zero crashes and a workplace where we have zero injuries, we need to think about this as a marathon with no finish.”
Complaints ranged but some stand out like the person in Houston who spent $1,626 to fix the problem on his 2014 GMC Denali. Additionally, four class-action lawsuits have been filed against GM. It says it initiated the recall voluntarily without pressure from the NHTSA.
“No Issue Doing Recalls”
Dan Flores, GM spokesperson told Automotive News, “We don’t have an issue doing recalls when we identify an issue. We’re making this decision now based on what the data was telling us. We’re taking this action based on the field reports and the customer complaints.” He also made a point of saying that even when the incident occurs that the brake performance is still within the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards braking requirements.
During Safety Week GM focussed on relating incidents within the company that saved lives and fixed problems in spite of having to shut down production or other costs to the company. It specifically called out four workers at its Delta Township, Michigan, plant that found cracks in a scissor lift and shut down the plant to fix the problem. If left alone it could have collapsed on workers. In spite of losing 500 scheduled cars, GM repaired the lift without anyone being injured.