GM recalls vehicles with defective fuel sensors

Warren, Mich. – Nov. 21, 2017 – General Motors has recalled more than 35,000 vehicles potentially equipped with defective fuel tank sensors, according to documentation submitted to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The campaign affects 2011-2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 and GMC Sierra 3500 pickup trucks produced between May 24, 2010 and Sept. 30, 2015. GM believes all of the vehicles named in the recall contain the defective parts.

The Defect

Affected models include dual fuel tank assemblies. The first of these tanks includes a defective fuel-level sensor that sometimes stalls in the lowest position, offering an inaccurate reading and increasing the likelihood of overfilling and tank expansion. This, in turn, could then allow the tank to come into contact with the moving driveshaft, creating a hole and causing fuel leakage. As a result, the defect poses a serious threat to occupants. However, GM has received no reports linking the defective component to any accidents or injuries thus far.

Timeline of Events

In April 2017, the NHTSA notified GM about a vehicle owner questionnaire it had received that detailed an instance of fuel leakage in a 2015 GMC Silverado 3500 pickup. One month later, the GM engineers familiar with the VOQ submitted a report via the company’s Speak Up For Safety program. The automaker launched an internal investigation in response to the submission on May 16.

Over the course of May, June and July, engineers evaluated field data to pinpoint the root cause of the leakage, which apparently initiated in the front fuel tank. On July 27, GM met with the NHTSA to review the results of the three-month inquiry. The two parties came to the conclusion that the fuel leaks were not developing in vehicles manufactured after 2015. In August, GM completed a design failure mode and affect analysis, and determined that the problem was confined to Chevrolet Silverado 3500 and GMC Sierra 3500 trucks equipped with dual fuel tanks. These vehicles were manufactured without beds and other conventional pickup features, as they were intended for commercial use or modification.

GM personnel reviewed the matter in two separate sessions on Aug. 28 and Sept. 25. The NHTSA revaluated the defect on Oct. 2 as well. The GM Safety and Field Action Decision Authority looked over the issue Oct. 12 and decided to conduct a voluntary safety recall. GM notified dealers Oct. 19.

The Solution

GM has directed dealers to inspect the front fuel tanks in the affected models and either replace the rear tank fuel pumps or updated the fuel sensor software, according to an NHTSA recall acknowledgement document. These fixes, which will be ready for implementation in early 2018, are to be executed free of charge. The automaker plans send an initial notification to owners via first-class mail Dec. 18 and follow-up document in February 2018, when the remedy is ready for implementation. Owners in need of more immediate assistance can contact Chevrolet customer service at (800) 222-1020 or GMC customer service at (800) 462-8782. Callers should use the GM recall identification number 17399.

Owners can also contact the NHTSA directly using the toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 3274236.

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