GM Recalls 133,000 Cars That Magically Brake on Their Own

New models of Chevy and Cadillac cars come to screeching halt without touching the brake pedal.

Posted in Recalls

— General Motors is recalling almost 133,000 cars because the brake pads could fail to release from the rotors even without a driver touching the brake pedal. GM names the cars as the 2013-2015 Cadillac XTS and 2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an "investigation" in April 2014 after complaints about model year 2014 Chevrolet Impala cars stopping in the middle of roads without driver input. Impala drivers said it felt like someone slammed on the brakes at full force without any warning, other than audible beeps from the forward collision avoidance system.

Although it was the government that opened the investigation, it was GM who did the investigating.

According to documents on NHTSA's website, it was GM that reviewed warranty data related to automatic braking. It was GM that contacted dealers asking for additional information about parking brake drag, and it was GM that determined the software was allegedly defective.

Based on GM's findings, the electronic parking brake piston actuation arm can fail to retract and cause the brake pads to stay partially engaged. It's possible brake pads that constantly rub against rotors could cause the brakes to overheat and catch fire.

So much for a "government" investigation. It's this kind of investigative work by NHTSA that has them in the hot seat on Capital Hill.

In any event, GM is recalling the 2013-2015 Cadillac XTS and 2014-2015 Chevrolet Impala so dealers can update the parking brake software.

The recall will begin in September 2014, but owners can contact Chevy customer service at 800-222-1020, or Cadillac customer service at 800-458-8006. The parking brake software recall number is 14471.