General Motors is recalling certain 2011 and 2012 Chevrolet Cruze compact sedans over concerns that liquids trapped in the engine compartment could cause a fire.
The voluntary recall covers 413,418 Chevy Cruze sedans from those model years with manual and automatic transmissions that were built in the U.S. from from October 2, 2009 through May 31, 2012.
The Chevrolet Cruze was the best-selling model in the General Motors lineup and the second best-selling compact car in the country last year.
2011 Chevrolet CruzeEnlarge Photo
Improper oil changes
A story in The Detroit News quotes a GM spokesman saying that the automaker has received reports of about 30 engine compartment fires. These were said to be linked to “improper oil changes and other fluids that were trapped in the engine.”
Specifically, improper oil changes could result in spilled or dripping oil which, if it contacts hot engine or exhaust system surfaces and the engine shield, may cause the engine shield to ignite and burn, resulting in an engine compartment fire.
GM advises that continuing to drive a manual transmission Cruze with a completely worn clutch may cause transmission fluid to be expelled from the clutch-housing vent hole.
Under certain circumstances, if the fluid is burning as it exits the vent hole and makes contact with the engine shield, the shield could ignite and cause a fire to spread to the engine compartment.
No crashes reported
Importantly, no crashes, injuries or deaths have been reported in connection with the fires.
The safety recall follows a preliminary investigation (PDF) opened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) this April based on reports of two engine compartment fires in 2011 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles. Cruze models from the 2012 model year were later added.
In a separate safety recall, GM will recall 53,239 2011-2012 Chevrolet Cruze models involved in the first recall to inspect rear compartment welds to ensure they were properly applied.
In the event of a severe side crash, missing fuel tank welds could result in fuel leakage, which increases fire risk. The company estimates that about 0.4 percent, or up to 249 Cruze vehicles, may be affected.
What GM will do
General Motors will modify the engine shield under the vehicle, and the repairs should take about 30 minutes at a GM dealership. Owner letters will be mailed beginning July 11, 2012.
In the meantime, owners are advised to be sure that proper excess fluid cleanup takes place after oil changes.
With respect to the vehicles with potentially missing welds, the inspection should only take minutes, and the repairs in confirmed cases should take about three hours.
In both recalls, the required repairs will be performed at no charge to owners.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has listed the 2011-2012 Chevrolet Cruze engine shield modification as a safety recall, identified as NHTSA campaign ID No. 12V288000. The GM safety recall campaign number is 12081.
The NHTSA has also listed the 2011-2012 Chevrolet Cruze fuel tank attachment welds in a safety recall, NHTSA campaign ID No. 12V289000. Affected vehicles were built from October 2, 2009 through May 14, 2012. The GM safety recall campaign number is 12133.
Owners of 2011 and 2012 Chevrolet Cruze sedans with any questions or concerns about either recall may contact Chevrolet at 1-866-694-6546.
Alternatively, owners of vehicles involved in the campaigns may contact the NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or go to http://www.safercar.gov.