Warren, Mich. — June 20, 2016 — An important alarm feature may not work properly in some Chevrolet vehicles, as a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently stated. General Motors is taking measures to address a security fault that could allow drivers to leave their keys in the ignition slots for several vehicles with model years ranging from 2013 to 2016.
Three Chevrolet models, (the Sonic, Spark and Trax vehicles) are part of this action, which extends to 317,572 units. The relatively subtle flaw may go undetected by motorists but could still fail Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 114, the report stated, leaving the vehicle vulnerable to theft.
The source said that the warning chime that should play when a driver leaves the key in the ignition may not do so, depending on how and when he or she opens the door. This only applies to vehicles with the Bring Your Own Media feature: In affected vehicles, the radio isn’t able to receive the command to exit sleep mode and prompt the proper alert.
Taking proper action
Though there is no official recall schedule yet, the report stated that dealers can update the included radio software to function correctly and execute the right key chime. The software in Sonic and Trax vehicles built after this April 13 and April 17, respectively, are already fixed, and the radio has been discontinued in Spark models altogether.
In addition, Autoblog’s article on this recall advised owners to take extra care to bring car keys when exiting a vehicle and not rely on the chime, in case it doesn’t work. The report lists two specific circumstances in which the chime could fail: if the driver takes more than 10 minutes to open the door after turning the vehicle off and leaving the key in the ignition, or the driver takes more than 20 seconds to open the door a second time after closing it.
The latter case could prove especially tricky, since the owner might hear a noise, but only a shortened version of the one he or she should. This is still possible evidence of the defect.
Since the official recall submission, the NHTSA has posted a pair of safety bulletins describing the necessary measures for reprogramming the systems. This notice specifically warned dealers not to program the affected control module without instruction or an updated programming tool. Other necessary precautions include reducing battery voltage fluctuations and putting the ignition switch in the correct position, as described by the Service Programming System.
Using a USB device and the vehicle’s own “infotainment display”, staff will update the necessary software and wait the required time for the changes to take effect. This same bulletin requires dealers to address all vehicles that arrive in their facility, ensuring completion for any models that might appear in dealer inventory.
FMVSS 114: A closer look
The text of this standard involves language that makes this recall a serious concern. As of 2016, FMVSS 114, which addresses “Theft protection and rollaway prevention,” requires a starting system to respond if the key is removed.
The subsections of this document allow for different possible deterrents, but removing the key must prevent the engine or motor from being activated as well as the vehicle’s steering and/or forward mobility.
While there are some exceptions, vehicles must, under this standard, feature “an audible warning” to alert the driver whenever the nearest door opens while the key is still left in the ignition. The audio alert does not need to play in certain situations, such as if the key cannot turn from its position within the starting system, though this just applies to mechanical systems.