General Motors is recalling 1.4 million vehicles due to a potential fire hazard related to a problem that has plagued the maker for the last seven years.
The automaker said the vehicles are at risk for fire because oil can leak onto the exhaust manifold on vehicles with 3.8-liter V6 engines. GM’s issued recalls for the problem three other times since 2008.
GM is recalling the 1997-2004 Pontiac Grand Prix, 2000-2004 Chevrolet Impala, 1998-1999 Chevrolet Lumina and 1998-2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue and 1997-2004 Buick Regal.
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“GM is working on a remedy,” the automaker said. “The company is aware of post-repair fires in some vehicles, but no crashes or fatalities. There have been 19 reported minor injuries over the last six years.”
GM spokesman Alan Adler told the Detroit News that GM has had reports of 1,345 fires in vehicles repaired in earlier recalls. The prior recalls failed to resolve the problem because “aging and wear to the valve cover and valve cover gasket can allow oil seepage.”
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Owners are likely to be told, as they were in earlier actions, to not park their vehicles in garages until they were fixed. The problem occurs when during hard braking situations, engine oil gets past the worn valve cover gasket. When it drips on to the manifold, it can ignite and the flames can spread to other parts, such as the plastic spark plug container.
The automaker’s recalled the vehicles in April and in 2008 and 2009 in an attempt to solve the problem. However, as the vehicles age, it continues to crop up. The problem first surfaced in 2007, when 21 complaints about engine fires in some of the cars triggered an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which found that most of the fires within 15 minutes of the engines being shut off, according to agency documents.
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The result was a recall in March 2008 of more than 200,000 vehicles, followed by a larger recall of 1.5 million vehicles.