Saturn Outlooks Recalled Due to Faulty Heated Windshield Washer Fluid System, GM to Reimburse Owners for Removing Feature

Saturn Outlook Heated Windshield Washer Fluid System

General Motors is recalling 1.5 million 2007-09 model cars, trucks, and crossovers to disable a heated washer fluid system (HWFS) module that could pose a fire risk. Because the feature will be disabled, GM will make a voluntary payment of $100 to the owner or lessee of each vehicle. There are no known injuries or crashes related to the condition.

Saturn offered the system on 2007-2009 Outlook models equipped with the Convenience Package.

A recall was previously implemented in 2008 to add a fuse to the control circuit harness to address the potential consequences of a printed circuit board electrical short. However, there have been new reports of thermal incidents on HWFS modules after this improvement was installed. These incidents resulted from a new failure mode attributed to the device's thermal protection feature. The significance varies from a minor distortion to considerable melting of the plastic around the HWFS fluid chamber. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that it is possible for the heated washer module to ignite and a fire may occur.

"While our analysis shows the number of incidents is very small compared with the number of vehicles on the road, we want our customers to have complete peace of mind," said Jeff Boyer, executive director of Safety. "We always want to make sure customers can count on the safety and quality of their GM vehicle."

Dealership service personnel will remove the heated washer fluid module and reroute washer fluid hoses. Customers will begin receiving recall letters this month, but they can contact their dealer at any time to make an appointment to have the heated washer system removed. The NHTSA says that an updated page for the owners manual will be provided to document that the feature has been permanently disabled and removed from the vehicle.

"This was a unique technology available from only one supplier, and that supplier has stopped manufacturing, which left no opportunity to collaborate on an improved design," Boyer said. "We want to be clear that the voluntary payment to customers is for the loss of the feature, not the recall."

Models included in the recall are the 2006-2009 model year Buick Lucerne; Cadillac DTS; Hummer H2; 2008-2009 model year Buick Enclave; Cadillac CTS; 2007-2009 model year Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV, Escalade EXT; Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe; GMC Acadia, Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL; Saturn Outlook; and 2009 model year Chevrolet Traverse.

Most of the vehicles, 1,365,070, are in the United States; there are 98,794 affected vehicles in Canada; 26,228 in Mexico; and 38,093 exports.

The heated washer fluid system was recalled in August 2008 because a short circuit on the printed circuit board could overheat the control-circuit ground wire. Dealers at the time installed an in-line fuse in the heated washer module wiring.

The government closed its initial investigation after the 2008 recall. GM continued to monitor the performance of the heated washer fluid module in the field and continued communications with NHTSA. In June 2009, a new and second failure mode was identified by GM with the first confirmed report consisting of smoke only. Since then, GM has been made aware of five fires.

The safety recall is expected to begin on or before June 14, 2010. Owners may contact Saturn at 1-800-972-8876 with any questions.

Source: GM, NHTSA

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