General Motors Recalls 3.46 Million Vehicles in North America for Brake Problem

General Motors Recalls 3.46 Million Vehicles in North America for Brake Problem

Author: Eric Walz   

General Motors announced on Wednesday it was recalling 3.46 million U.S. pickup trucks and SUVs to address a vacuum pump issue that could make braking more difficult and that has been linked to 113 accidents and 13 injuries.

The recall, which was reported by Reuters, covers 2014-2018 model year vehicles, including the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon vehicles.

This latest recall is significant for GM, as the pickup and SUV models recalled make up a large percentage of the company's total vehicle sales in North America. In 2018, GM reported it sold 2,954,037 vehicles in North America. 1.25 million of those vehicles were SUVs and pickup trucks.

In late June, GM recalled 310,000 vehicles in Canada for the same issue. According to Reuters, GM did not immediately explain why the Canadian recall occurred more than two months before it called back the vehicles in the United States.

The recall was triggered because the amount of vacuum created by the vacuum pump may decrease over time, GM told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in documents posted on Wednesday.

The pump supplies additional vacuum which operates the power brakes. A malfunctioning pump can increase the amount of pedal effort needed to stop the vehicle. GM said it could affect braking in "rare circumstances." 

The NHTSA said in a statement the "vehicles may experience brake boost failure, which would require increased brake pedal effort, leading to a hard brake pedal feel, and potentially increased stopping distance."

The NHTSA first opened an investigation into the issue in Nov 2018, and said it had reports of nine related crashes and two injuries. In July 2019, the agency provided GM with additional field reports that prompted the automaker to open its own investigation of the brake problem.

GM said the repairs will be made by reprogramming the electronic brake control module to improve how the system utilizes the hydraulic brake boost assist function when vacuum assist is depleted.

GM said the vacuum assist pump, which is lubricated with engine oil that flows into the pump through a filter screen, can in some cases lose effectiveness over time, as debris such as oil sludge can accumulate on the filter screen.

GM told NHTSA that prior model years used a different brake assist system design, and vehicles manufactured after 2018 were not equipped with the affected pump design.

Beginning with the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models, GM switched to "Integrated Brake Control" (IBC), an electro-hydraulic system designed by automotive parts supplier ZF Friedrichshafen that replaces the vacuum booster and pump. The system integrates the braking and electronic stability control system into one module.

The recall announced today is one of three for the Detroit automaker. GM said on Wednesday it is also recalling 270,000 U.S. vehicles in three smaller recalls, including 177,000 2018 Chevrolet Malibu sedans equipped with 1.5L turbo engines for an error in the engine control module software that may result in the fuel injectors being disabled

In addition, GM is recalling 91,000 2019 Chevrolet Express vans and GMC Savana vehicles because the seatbelt-unfastened warning light will not illuminate for approximately five seconds after the ignition is moved to the "on" or "start" position, which means they are not in compliance with federal motor safety regulations that require the seatbelt light to come on as soon as a driver turns the ignition on to start the vehicle.

GM has 60 days to notify owners about the recall. Owners can visit their local GM dealer to have the vacuum pump inspected and repaired for free.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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