GM Recalls Nearly 1 Million Vehicles With Defective Windshield Wiper Systems

Can your late-model GM vehicle melt snow and ice with a blast of heated windshield wiper fluid? It might be one of 944,000 vehicles with a faulty heating system that can cause odors, smoke, or even a surprise car fire.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the defect is responsible for at least three car blazes, maybe even nine.

The recall involves the 2007-2008 model year Chevrolet Silverado, Tahoe, Avalanche and Suburban, Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT, GMC Acadia, Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL and Saturn Outlook; 2006-2008 Hummer H2, Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne; and the 2008 Buick Enclave.

GM will fix the problem by installing a “wire harness with an in-line fuse,” which is car-speak for “system that won’t catch fire.”

For more information, call:
Buick: (866) 608-8080
Cadillac: (800) 982-2339
Chevrolet: (800) 630-2438
Saturn: (800) 972-8876
GMC: (866) 996-9436
Hummer: (800) 732-5493

General Motors Recalls Vehicles for Fire Hazard [NEWSInferno]
(Photo: Jef Poskanzer)


Edit Your Comment

  1. antisane says:

    FTA: “General Motors says that dealers will install a fuse that will shut off the system in the event of a short circuit to correct the problem.”

    So rather than find out what is causing these boards to short-circuit (and fixing the main problem) we’ll just throw in a $4 in-line fuse to stop the short from setting your car on fire. The board will still be shorted out causing you time (and possibly money) getting that fixed (just so that it could happen again).

  2. TechnoDestructo says:

    Why would you want heated washer fluid? In any situation where it will matter, it will be cool by the time it does anything. That’s what the alcohol is for, anyway.

    Sounds like a feature that was added because it sounds cool more than for any practical reason.

  3. which is car-speak for “system that won’t catch fire.”

    So what you’re saying is that having a large electrical fire near a gas-burning combustion engine moving at high speed would cause some type of navigational issues, or something?

    Would duct tape help?

  4. pockygt says:

    no, it’s so the hot liquid can splash all over your frozen windshield and crack it.

    Oh GM, what won’t you give us?

    Also, in before Fiero jokes.

  5. Annath says:

    That picture made my day. :D

  6. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    See…the system works! I don’t see any ice on that truck’s windshield.

  7. Trai_Dep says:

    GM, going above and beyond to contribute an extra 8 fluid ounces of global warming that they somehow missed when designing the engine. Bravo!

    PS: doesn’t hot water freeze faster than cold? Mr Science taught me so…

    • socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:



      Can hot water freeze faster than cold water?
      Yes — a general explanation:
      “The phenomenon that hot water may freeze faster than cold is often called the Mpemba effect.”

      I’ll let you read the rest.

    • Coles_Law says:

      @Trai_Dep: Hot water will freeze before cold only in somewhat rare conditions. Usually, it’s an issue of more of the hot water evaporating, thus leaving less mass to freeze. It can still happen, even if you cantrol for mass loss, but then it only occurs in “hot water” vs. “really hot water”-just below boiling vs. superheated, for example.
      GM’s heated washer fluid almost certainly takes longer to freeze-although not much, I’m sure. That doesn’t make it a good idea though. What’s next, a condenser for my gas tank so the gas stays cold?
      Actually, in conjunction with the overheating electrical system, that may be a good idea.

  8. Trick says:

    Looks like a Nissan Titan is on fire and they don’t even have heated wiper fluid. Heated seats yes, but that just keeps the buns toasty and according to recent studies, the wife better half from getting pregnant!

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    So, did they charge extra for the GM-branded bag of marshmallows in every SUV?

  10. legwork says:

    “…wire harness with an in-line fuse.”

    It doesn’t have one already? A heater element? That’s just weird.

  11. wdnobile says:

    Hot water doesnt freeze faster than cold. Think about it. 75 degree water for example and say 40 degree water. The 75 has to go down to 40 before it hits 32. Sheesh.

    The heated fluid splashes warm but not hot water onto your windshield to melt ice in the winter.

    • crystalattice says:

      From what I remember from my heat transfer/fluid flow class many years ago, the heat transfer is greater when there is a larger difference between two temperatures. Hence, hotter water will cool down faster than cooler water, which results in faster freezing overall.

      But it’s not much faster; the phase change required from liquid to solid takes the same amount of time.

    • crystalattice says:

      From what I remember of heat transfer from school, the greater the temperature difference, the greater the heat transfer. Ergo, hotter water will freeze faster because it will transfer it’s heat faster than cooler water.

      Obviously, as it cools down the heat transfer also slows, and when it hits 32 degrees, there is still the heat transfer required for the phase change from liquid to solid. So actually changing to ice will take the same amount of time. But overall, a hotter liquid will reach 32 degrees faster than a cooler liquid.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      Noting the CA license plates, BOY I hope that SUV is parked in a properly designated smoking area. Otherwise: such a ticket!

      @wdnobile, @socalrob, @Coles_Law: Whoa. Thanks, guys! Above and beyond, especially with SoCalRob’s citing and naming the effect! “The Mpemba Effect” – Tanzania must be proud of their native son.
      The best thing of your answers, even though you say, No, Sometimes (learn the name for it, ninny) and Sometimes (and supercooled gasoline just might put out the fire) is that everyone’s right. Cigars to all!
      The noted Philosopher/King, Cecil Adams, also writes of the Mpemba Effect, although his over-engorged brain somehow missed the kewl appellation.
      I love the Consumerist Commentaratti more and more with each passing day. Seriously.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      From what I recall from my car manual it specifically states NOT to operate the wipers if the windsheild is covered in ice, as it may damage them.

      All the cars I’ve ever owned make the wipers move when you squirt the fluid, as well.. aren’t they contradicting themselves?

  12. oldheathen says:

    Does OnStar get called automatically when this happens? “This is Kelly with OnStar. It seems you’ve had a surprise car fire, Mr. Jones, is that correct?”

  13. Triborough says:

    It seems like natural selection in action here.

  14. elavender says:

    And they wonder why the domestic car market is struggling. Nearly a million cars recalled? Ouch

  15. Pro-Pain says:

    Lets face it, we all enjoy a good car fire as long as nobody gets hurt. We should be thanking GM for curbing our bordom. Thanks GM!

  16. HollerJoller says:

    I think it’s a good idea, just bad r & d. I don’t know how well it works but I hate chipping ice off my windshield. Recalls aren’t so bad sure they lose money (like that’s new), but at least they own up to it, unlike the ole Firestone/Exploder incident.

  17. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    Oh dear the Japanese car fanboys / Big 3 Bashers are out in full force already.

    First off, recalls are not big news – every one has them, including the beloved driving appliances like Toyota and Honda.

    Secondly, if you look at how many units were produced and shipped, you can see why the number is at a million – but then again, fanboys hate to admit that GM sells a lot of cars. Gee, no one seems to like to shit all over Toyota when the frame rails of the FJ Cruiser were breaking and Toyota initally refused to address the issue and blamed owners for abuse – or how about Honda’s problems with sludging in their V6 engine? Nope – not much heard on that either.

    Heated washer fluid? Great idea – not everyone lives areas that remain above the freezing mark 80% of the year. Try driving along in sub-zero weather with your windshield crusted to hell with salt and your washer fluid freezes on the way out of the nozzle, only to smear the glass even worse. The heated washer fluid works, and other manufacturers have the option on their cars as well.

    Keep it up kicking Big 3 when their down – Lest we forget that despite your feelings about Detroit, without them our economy will be substantially worse than it is now. Mark my words – if they close their doors or become foreign owned and we inevitably end up in another world war (tipping hat to warmongering repubes), America will be no more. Extreme you say? Sky is falling you say? You bet. It’s coming. The US offers NOTHING to the world, now that we’re a ‘services based economy’ and high on our haunches being the world police.

    • crashfrog says:

      @TheSpatulaOfLove: Lest we forget that despite your feelings about Detroit, without them our economy will be substantially worse than it is now.

      That’s an interesting theory of economics. And here I thought the job of GM and the rest were to sell cars that people want to buy, not patriot-guilt us into buying useless, gas-guzzling SUV’s and trucks.

      Time and time again, Detroit has completely failed to anticipate the needs and desires of the American auto consumer, and make no mistake, it’s the shop guys and the assembly-line guys, not the parasitic CEO class, that pays the price for the arrogant assumption that we’ll buy whatever they want to sell us, and like it.

      But, why worry? They still have plenty of lapdogs in Congress. I’m sure their bailout is on the way.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        @crashfrog: THANK you. Besides, don’t the Big Three ship out American jobs at the shake of a wet dog’s whisker anyway? Loyalty is a two-way street.

      • TheSpatulaOfLove says:


        It’s obvious you know very little about the car business and history in general. Sure, you may not like what Detroit pumped out, but then again, my bet is you’re either single, gay, childless, any combination of above, or otherwise have no reason to buy an SUV. I’m by no means an SUV apologist for those who bought into the whole SUV craze without the real need to buy one, but they have their place. Personally, I prefer small cars, but as my family grows and the fact I live in the north again, I now understand the allure of an SUV and its capabilities.

        So let me ask you something about the 90’s as a general whole. Did you care about gas prices? Most people didn’t, and wanted to keep up with the Joneses, or had growing families and didn’t find the drivability of a minivan appealing or even wanted something a little more luxurious for a change – so SUV sales rocketed. And as any business person would view a growing market, Big 3 invested boatloads of money into SUV production, as it was high margin product for something that was already sold (read: pickups – and in large quantities) without major engineering dollars going into new platform development. Would you as a business person ignore the market opportunity there? If you did ignore it, you would be out of business. They seized the opportunity and worked to pare down the legacy costs they’re saddled with that the foreign car manufacturers have yet to feel the pinch of.

        Now, for lesson #2. Small cars have very little profit margin in them, when you consider cost to develop, crash testing, EPA/CAFE bullshit, etc. You’ll notice a few things happened in the 90’s that drove a lot of vehicle production out of the country. First, CAFE requirements got out of hand quickly, but at a time that many small cars were being sold at a loss. SUVs were the profit center, yet did not meet the CAFE requirements set – so what do you do? Well, NAFTA came in to save the day – no longer were there import taxes associated with bring cars in from Canada and Mexico, so truck-based vehicle production moved north and south, while small car production stayed. According to CAFE requirements, a manufacturer’s production domestically has more weighting on the overall number than on imported product, however if that CARB number goes below their requirement, the government whacks the manufacturer a couple thousand bucks PER VEHICLE SOLD in fines. You can thank those suited, supposed tree-huggers (EPA) for shipping the jobs out of the country, as they have no fucking clue what it takes to design and develop a vehicle from the ground up, then meet consumer demand and placate fanboys like yourself. FYI: Foreign car manufacturers are not saddled with a lot of these tariffs like Big 3 are, since the government can’t control them directly, as well as the ‘free trade’ shit that they sling around, which only hurts America even further. The Japanese keep the production of their gas guzzlers overseas the same way Big 3 does, however the dirty secret is they tax the hell out of US imports, while we let them have a free ride here – and hell, we even pay incentives for them to build factories here.

        Lesson #3: Big 3 sell a LOT of cars. Look at the numbers. While they may not be your taste or the paid-off lapdogs of the auto rags who consistently shit all over Big 3 despite some decent product being put out, there are certainly a lot of people who do like them. I learned why the losses and gains by auto companies are so drastic by a GM higher up – it was very enlightening when you put the economies in scale. Without getting into the details, I’ll sum it up for you. When GM plans quarterly and annual operating budget and target numbers, they know how many cars they have to sell in order to keep the lights on and make Wall St. happy. To make things easy, let’s say they need to sell 500k cars a year globally to break even. For every 1k cars sold over that number, their profit grows exponentially. For every 1k cars under that number, their losses grow exponentially. This is taking into consideration R&D, Marketing, EPA, NHTSA, as well as global regulation, trade regulation, etc, etc, etc. It’s a calculated risk, but it explains why you’re now seeing the Employee Pricing for Everyone program going on – they’re going for a target number in hopes of hitting the positive multiplier.

        You want to kick them for failing to give the US consumer what they demand, but do you participate in consumer vehicle surveys? Do you go to auto shows? Are you active in car forums? Do you write emails asking for something? Or are you just someone who likes to band-wagon bitch when someone doesn’t anticipate your wants and desires in a vehicle? I know for a fact that Big 3 spends a lot of effort and money on trying to get a feel for what people want. They also watch the market and see what sells and respond as best and as quickly as they can. The massive departure from SUVs is a pretty recent thing, as less than 3 years ago, gas was climbing, but hadn’t spiked like it has in the last year. Did you expect them to flip a switch and give you a 50mpg car right away? I think you may be a product of the microwave generation: “If I can’t have it in 2 minutes or less, I don’t want it.” Vehicle engineering is no small feat.

        So when Big 3 saw the tide shifting a few years ago, they asked the current corrupt administration to come and discuss the price of oil, the industry, trade, etc. But of course, since Bush can’t see beyond his politics, wars and profiteering, he basically flipped the bird to the entire state of Michigan. Bad move, Georgie-boy – who’s gonna make all those parts for your tanks – China?

        Now in regards to the bailout. It won’t happen under this administration, as it’s been made brutally clear that this administration really doesn’t give a shit about domestic interests. It’s all about lining their own pockets with all the defense contracts and oil revenues. Perhaps the next administration (I don’t care which one) will realize what damage as been done domestically and hopefully will address it, otherwise the problems we see now will pale in comparison to what’s to come.

        • soapdish says:

          @TheSpatulaOfLove: “,,, my bet is you’re either single, gay,….”

          I stopped right there because I knew this post was going to be filled with tool.

          • TheSpatulaOfLove says:


            You are correct – I apologize to everyone for being an ass in that statement, as I let my emotions sling blind rage.

        • crashfrog says:

          @TheSpatulaOfLove: Personally, I prefer small cars, but as my family grows and the fact I live in the north again, I now understand the allure of an SUV and its capabilities.

          Gratz, I guess, because there’s a ton of cheap SUV’s for you to buy.

          Why? Because people are getting the hell out of SUV’s. There’s a ton on lots that never sold in the first place. So, pretty clearly, the demand for SUV’s was nowhere near as high as Detroit thought.

          Small cars have very little profit margin in them, when you consider cost to develop, crash testing, EPA/CAFE bullshit, etc.

          So? We’re supposed to have our desires dictated to us by Detroit because they don’t make enough money on the cars we do want?

          Again, any business that runs like that deserves to fail. None of the Detroit automakers have a right to be in business, if they’re not willing to provide products that the market wants.

          Supply and demand, remember? If the demand doesn’t exist for the products Detroit wants to manufacture, why should they stay in business? More importantly, why should my money (through taxes) be used to support a business that I’ve already decided not to support, by not buying any of their cars?

          You want to kick them for failing to give the US consumer what they demand, but do you participate in consumer vehicle surveys? Do you go to auto shows? Are you active in car forums?

          No. Like millions of Americans, though, I buy, or don’t buy, cars. I participate in the free market, which is the only information they should need. But regardless, Americans have been clamoring for more efficient vehicles since the late 90’s. You’ve heard the story of the EV-1? How people begged to be able to buy it, but were refused? Every signal Detroit needed to know that they were making cars people didn’t want has been there for almost a decade.

          And as a result of executive blindness, thousands of working-class people, with families, are going to lose their jobs. SO get angry, that’s good, but don’t get angry at me for refusing to buy whatever clunker of the week Detroit shits out this week. Get angry at Detroit for refusing, for a decade, to adjust to changing market conditions because they prized short-term profits over long-term planning.

          Did you expect them to flip a switch and give you a 50mpg car right away?

          No. I expect them to have read the tea leaves a decade ago, like foreign automakers did. I expect their companies to sink or swim on their own merits, based on their own decisions in the marketplace, instead of having my money hoovered out of my wallet to pay a car company without getting a car in return.

          Vehicle engineering is no small feat.

          If the Detroit automakers find it so difficult, maybe they should go into a different line of work.

          Perhaps the next administration (I don’t care which one) will realize what damage as been done domestically and hopefully will address it

          Address it with a big cash giveaway? Ridiculous. Why should my money go to an automaker that isn’t giving me a car in return?

          It’s corporate welfare.

          I apologize to everyone for being an ass in that statement, as I let my emotions sling blind rage.

          I accept your apology. As it happens, I’m a married, childless man… with an SUV inherited from my wife’s family. Olds Bravada, actually. When we have the money to even consider a new car, we’re definitely going in another direction.

  18. midwestkel says:

    Obviously GM never has problems. The picture is even a Ford so I will stick to buying Yukon’s.

    • MrEvil says:

      @midwestkel: It’s a Nissan Titan, most decidedly not a Ford.

      @vastrightwing: Ford already uses a resistive heating technology in the windshield of the Transit Connect cargo van. Allegedly it’s been OK’d by the DOT for use in the states.

  19. vastrightwing says:

    If only they could come up with a simple way to heat the glass with some kind of electrical conductive see through layer that only warms the glass.

  20. hcabsar says:

    This is perfect, I love seeing GM go down in flames. I hate General Motors. We had a Yukon that was a complete lemon and it was amusing at how they would try to pretend there wasn’t an issue. I just hope that one day the service manager of our local GM dealer finds himself in the hot seat. BWAHAHAHA!

  21. Orv says:

    GM never quite figured out the whole “electricity” thing. Every GM car I’ve been in has had a lot of electrical faults. This doesn’t give me good feelings about the upcoming Volt.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @Orv: Same. My mom’s Grand Am was one hell of a trip. New clutch, New Alternator, all 4 window motors had to be replaced, and a slew of recall problems, all under 50,000 miles!

  22. hankrearden says:

    Huh. Odd how this comes only days after the widespread “Employee Discount” pricing on GM vehicles.

  23. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I also love how EVERY car commercial holds the mpg efficiency or inefficiency of the car up on a pedestal since the gas crisis started. Like the new ford crossover thingy. “When a crossover arrives with 24mpg…” That’s HIGHWAY mileage. I get almost twice that IN TOWN. (And the ad clearly states it estimates 17mpg in town for the new Ford. Yuck)

    I think they need to stop touting gas mileage good or bad and start DOING something to improve it.