General Motors is recalling nearly 325,000 of its heavy-duty pickup trucks because a defective engine block heater cord may fail, increasing the risk of the fire. According to Consumer Reports, the automaker is recalling 2017 to 2019 Chevy Silverado 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty trucks and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty trucks. Also included in the recall are 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 4500, 5500, and 6500 commercial trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has said only trucks equipped with 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engines and optional engine block heaters are affected.
What Causes the Fire Hazard?
GM has reported 19 fires related to this report, but the automaker says it has received no reports of injuries, crashes or deaths. Engine block heaters plug into an external power outlet and warm the engine, making it easier to start in very cold weather. Both the cord and the connection between the cord and the block heater may short circuit, which could trigger a fire.
Vehicle owners may experience a burning smell or see smoke and poor performance from the engine block heater. They may also see coolant from the block heater pooled under affected trucks. When in use, the block heater might blow vehicle fuses or trip the circuit breaker of the outlet to which it is plugged. GM is not the only automaker to have this problem. Recently Ford trucks were also recalled for an engine block heater issue.
What to Do If Your Vehicle is Recalled
If your vehicle has been recalled, you should get a letter from the manufacturer that contains information including what the defect is, a description of the defect, the risk or danger posed by the problem, potential warning signs, and how the manufacturer plans to fix it the problem. This letter should also contain instructions regarding what steps you should take next such as when you should go to the dealership for a repair. Recall repairs are done at no cost to consumers, as required by the law.
If you don’t receive a car recall notice, however, you can search through current safety recalls on the NHTSA’s site. And whether you received a letter or not, the manufacturer is still required to perform the repair free of cost. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a safety defect, you may be able to seek compensation for the damages and losses you have suffered. An experienced auto defect attorney will be able to provide you with more information regarding your legal rights and options.