Chevy and GMC Pickups Recalled for Fire Hazard

In January 2014, General Motors recalled roughly 370,000 pickup trucks for a fire hazard caused by a software glitch. The recall is in effect for 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and 2014 GMC Sierra trucks with 4.3-liter or 5.3-liter engines. Silverado and Sierra models with 6.2-liter engines are not being recalled. Roughly 303,000 of these recalled trucks are in the United States. The remaining 67,000 are in Canada, Mexico, and export markets.

GM Truck Software Glitch

The General Motors (GM) truck software glitch involves the trucks’ cylinder deactivation, which GM has branded as “Active Fuel Management.” Cylinder deactivation is a process that shuts off select engine cylinders when extra power is not necessary. As a result, less gas is used and the vehicle’s fuel economy is improved. When idling, the trucks should only use two cylinders. However, the recalled Silverado and Sierra trucks experience a glitch that causes most of the cylinders to be used when idling. This can cause overheating of the exhaust components, which can in turn lead to a fire.

Fire Hazard Risk Factors

As of January 2014, eight fires have been reported due to the software glitch, four of which occurred on GM dealership properties. No injuries occurred. All eight fires occurred during cold-weather climates in December and January. For this reason, GM speculates that the fires were caused by excessive idling times due to the cold temperatures.

Fire Hazard Warning Signs

GM warns that the software glitch may be indicated by the “check engine” light on the dashboard. Those who experience a glitch report that the light stays on for extended periods of time. The glitch may also be indicated by the “engine power reduced” message that appears in the vehicle’s driver information center. In these cases, the vehicle may experience what’s referred to as “limp-home” mode. During limp-home mode, the vehicle’s accelerator, engine control computer, and throttle fail to communicate effectively. This causes a fast idle, which may be dangerous. The GM software glitch may also be indicated when trucks run roughly after being started.

GM Truck Recall Process

Fortunately for owners of the recalled trucks, GM’s recall asks owners to bring their vehicle to their GM dealer. At the dealerships, employees will install a free vehicle software update to correct the cylinder deactivation flaws. The software update process should take roughly 20 minutes. GM has mailed out recall letters to those affected. Silverado and Sierra owners are recommended to take their trucks to a dealership as soon as possible. For the time being, GM advises that owners avoid leaving vehicles idling unattended.