DETROIT – General Motors issued its third recall in seven years for cars that can leak oil and catch fire, in some instances damaging garages and homes.
The recall, which covers 1.4 million vehicles dating to the 1997 model year, is needed because repairs from the first two recalls didn’t work. More than 1,300 cars caught fire even after they were fixed by dealers, the company said.
A valve cover gasket can degrade over time, allowing oil to seep out. Under hard braking, oil drops can fall onto the exhaust manifold and catch fire. Flames can spread to a plastic spark plug wire channel and the rest of the engine.
GM, which has an Allen County truck assembly plant, said it has reports of 19 minor injuries in fires caused by the cars. The company is completing a fix for the latest recall, and it will use state registration databases in an effort to track down the owners and notify them by mail, spokesman Alan Adler said.
In the previous recalls, in 2008 and 2009, GM told owners to park the cars outside until repairs can be made because most of the fires happened shortly after drivers turned off the engines. Adler said he doesn’t know whether GM will make the same recommendation again.
The latest recall, mainly in North America, includes: the 1997 to 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix and Buick Regal; the 2000 to 2004 Chevrolet Impala; the 1998 and 1999 Chevrolet Lumina and Oldsmobile Intrigue; and the 1998 to 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. All have 3.8-liter V-6 engines. In addition, GM will notify owners of 500,000 more cars that were not repaired in the previous recalls, he said.