— How bad is it when 1,345 car fires have been reported after the cars were recalled and repaired to prevent those fires? Owners of older General Motors cars know the answer as GM, for the fourth time since 2008, recalls 1.4 million of the following vehicles:
- 1997-2004 Buick Regal
- 2000-2004 Chevrolet Impala
- 1998-1999 Chevrolet Lumina
- 1998-2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
- 1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue
- 1997-2004 Pontiac Grand Prix
The 3.8L V6 cars can leak oil onto engine parts and cause a blaze, which is what has occurred at least 1,345 times to cars that were previously repaired in recalls for the same problems. Throw in at least 19 injuries and numerous burned structures caused by engine valve covers that leak oil onto hot engine components.
The first recall in 2008 was the result of a federal investigation opened after owners kept complaining about engine fires in the affected cars. Sadly it took that investigation and numerous fires to convince GM to order the 2008 recall, but keep in mind this is the same automaker that let hundreds of people be killed and injured because of a 57-cent ignition switch.
The last engine valve cover recall was in April 2015, when older GM cars were catching on fire due to leaking oil from the valve cover gaskets. Many owners have said the gaskets GM used were cheap and therefore, the problem could be fixed by using a more sturdy gasket.
Owners who experienced car fires caused by the leaking gaskets have complained about the problems they experienced after the fires.
"While sitting idle in the vehicle with the engine running, the rear valve cover leaked and caused the vehicle to catch on fire. The contact (owner) was able to extinguish the fire by throwing sand on the engine. In addition, the contact stated he observed smoke coming from under the hood several times but was not aware of a possible fire. The dealer advised repairs could be made to the vehicle at the contacts (owners) expense." - 2000 Buick Regal owner / Warrenton, Missouri
"The vehicles engine caught fire on October 25, 2009 while it was parked. She received a recall notice for the valve cover gasket; yet, when she took the vehicle to the dealer they stated that there might be a risk in repairing the recall and that another part could break. They also quoted her $500 to repair the recall; therefore, she did not have the repair done." - 2000 Buick Regal owner / Columbus , Ohio
In the April recall, GM ordered dealers to replace the spark plug wire retainer to redirect any dripping oil. Seems like a strange fix considering oil shouldn't be leaking in the first place from the gaskets. In cars with 3.8L V6 supercharged engines, dealers were told to replace the left valve cover gaskets.
All of it was for nothing as engines kept catching on fire, along with garages and any other nearby structures.
General Motors has no idea when the recall will begin because the automaker hasn't figured out how to fix the problems. GM is warning owners to park their vehicles away from any structures that could burn.
With questions or just to scream about how a vehicle shouldn't need to be recalled four times for the same problem, call a following number:
- Chevrolet customer service at 800-222-1020
- Buick customer service at 800-521-7300
- Oldsmobile customer service at 800-442-6537
- Pontiac customer service at 800-458-8006
GM's number for this recall is 15757.
Chevy Caprice Recall
In a separate and much smaller recall, GM needs to repair 23 model year 2014 Chevrolet Caprice cars with airbags that can deploy with too much force.
GM says the cars have replacement seat base assemblies installed during previous repairs that might be missing the seat position target bracket. The automaker says the airbag might deploy with too much pressure without the seat position target bracket.
GM dealers will inspect the vehicles and if necessary, install a seat frame equipped with a target bracket. GM doesn't know when the recall will begin. Owners may contact Chevrolet at 800-222-1020.