06 Feb Expert Jonathan Cartu Says – The Day – GM recall causes brake failure in potentially…
Detroit — General Motors is issuing an update to a recall because the initial recall has created more problems.
After inquiries by the Detroit Free Press that started in January, GM has confirmed that about 1,600 to 1,700 owners of 2019 Chevrolet and GMC pickups and possibly the Cadillac CT6 have complained of electronic brake failure after they had their dealer perform a GM-issued recall.
About 160,000 more GM customers whose vehicles were part of the original recall could be in danger of brake problems, too.
The software update used in the first recall causes disruption to the electronic brake control module when the customer starts the truck using the OnStar app, GM said. The revised repair will update the software that drives the vehicle’s electronic braking system.
“I’m very, very lucky that I was not at speed on a highway or in heavy traffic when this happened to me,” said Shawn O’Leary, a 43-year-old portfolio manager who lives in Park Ridge, Ill.
O’Leary had his electronic braking system fail for the first time on Jan. 4 in his 2019 GMC Sierra Denali after he had the recall repair done. He said he had to stop the vehicle by standing on the brake pedal and waiting for the car to coast to a halt.
“It’s terrifying. I was only doing 10 to 15 miles per hour, but I had my child in the back seat,” said O’Leary.
Fix causes problems
A GM spokesman said after affected owners get the revised repair done, the vehicles will be safe to drive.
“We’re very confident in this fix,” said spokesman Dan Flores.
He could not comment, however, on how safe any vehicles are to drive that had the recall done but not the updated fix.
“If any customer has a concern with their vehicle, they should contact their dealer immediately,” Flores said. “I’m sure dealers are frustrated, too, because their initial fix caused more problems. But we have a fix to the fix that we’re sure will take care of the problem.”
The problem arose from a recall GM issued in December covering nearly 550,000 Cadillac CT6 sedans and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups from 2019. GM said that a software error can disable the electronic stability control and antilock brake systems, increasing the risk of a crash.
Flores said about 162,000 of those affected had the original recall done. But GM will send out recall letters to the owners of all 550,000 vehicles advising them to go to their dealership for both the December recall and the updated repair.
Lit like a Christmas tree
Some pickup owners told the Free Press that after getting that recall done earlier this month, they experienced multiple instances of electronic braking system failure, in some cases sending them into cross-traffic at intersections.
“I was heading to lunch and my dash lit up like a Christmas tree, then my brakes totally went out,” said Brian Duscher, 48, who lives in Litchfield, Minn., and bought his 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 pickup on Christmas Eve after it had the recall work done on it. “I had to go through a red light in the intersection; I was almost clipped by a large cube van.”
Duscher said even his emergency brake did not work.
Later that day, Jan. 16, Duscher said he remotely started his pickup using his OnStar App. When he approached an intersection, again, “the dash lit up like a Christmas tree” and he had no braking power.
“I knew there was an incident at lunch, so I was scared and had slowed down by four car lengths before the intersection, just in case something happened again,” said Duscher, who works in manufacturing and said he’s tinkered with cars since he was a teen. “But the hood of my truck was in one-third of the westbound lane of traffic.”
Duscher and O’Leary both notified their dealership service managers after their incidents, they said, but the dealers couldn’t fix the problem.
O’Leary said he took his pickup to his dealer on Jan. 6, two days after the brakes first failed. The dealer returned it a couple of days later supposedly fixed.
But on Jan. 8, O’Leary said, he started the pickup and the check engine light came on. Then, when he was at the top of a ramp in a downtown Chicago parking garage, “No brakes. I had to stand on the brakes to get it to stop.”
He turned the vehicle off and on several times to reset the computer before limping the vehicle to his dealership. Two days later, his dealer advised him to not use the OnStar app to start or warm the vehicle because there is a connection between that and the brake problems.
“To me, that means GM knew there was a problem then and was putting people at risk,” for not recalling pickups immediately and giving customers loaner cars, O’Leary said on Monday before GM announced the fix. “There’s been no owner-wide notification about this, why? This is a safety issue. We’re not that far removed from the ignition switch crisis, so what is GM’s culture?”
O’Leary is referring to 2014 when GM recalled 2.6 million small cars because of a defective ignition switch that could shut off the engine and air bags while the car was in motion. It was one of the deadliest auto recalls in U.S. history, having resulted in the deaths of 124 people.
Dealers, NHTSA notified
GM’s Flores did not know when GM became aware of these brake problems, but he said there “obviously was an issue” and he said GM is “moving as quickly as we can to get these fixed.”
In a statement to the Free Press on Tuesday, Flores said, “GM has notified dealers it has updated the software calibration being used to complete a non-compliance field action GM filed this past December with NHTSA on certain 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups and the Cadillac CT6. Under the revised repair, dealers will re-flash the vehicles’ electronic brake control module with a new calibration that resolves the initial issue and the recent complaints.”
GM apologizes for the inconvenience, said Flores, but “the safety of our customers is the overriding priority in everything we do.”
GM has also notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the updated fix, he said.
NHTSA spokesman Sean Rushton responded on Jan. 17 to a Free Press inquiry about the brake failures in certain GM 2019 pickups saying, “NHTSA is aware of consumer complaints regarding the GMC Sierra and is in contact with the manufacturer. The…