• Apr 13, 2009
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just announced a major recall covering nearly 1.5 million General Motors passenger cars from the late 90's and early 2000s. The recall affects various Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac models equipped with normally aspirated versions of GM's much-utilized 3800 3.8-liter V6.

Apparently, some of these engines can drop oil onto the exhaust manifold during hard braking. If that manifold has gotten hot enough and the oil dribbles below the heat shield, it can start a small fire. The flames can then engulf the plastic spark plug wire channel, potentially resulting in a full-on engine compartment fire.

The fix? Dealer service departments will be asked to remove said spark plug wire retention channel from the front of the engine bay, and then retrofit two new retainers.

Models Affected:

1997-2003 Buick Regal
2000-2003 Chevrolet Impala
1998-1999 Chevrolet Lumina
1998-2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue
1997-2003 Pontiac Grand Prix

The recall is slated to begin in May. Official NHTSA Release after the jump.

[Source: NHTSA]

PRESS RELEASE:

Vehicle Make / Model: Model Year(s):

BUICK / REGAL 1997-2003
CHEVROLET / IMPALA 2000-2003
CHEVROLET / LUMINA 1998-1999
CHEVROLET / MONTE CARLO 1998-2003
OLDSMOBILE / INTRIGUE 1998-1999
PONTIAC / GRAND PRIX 1997-2003

Manufacturer: GENERAL MOTORS CORP. Mfr's Report Date: APR 08, 2009
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number: 09V116000
EA07008

NHTSA Action Number: EA07008

Component: ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING
Potential Number of Units Affected: 1497516
Summary:

GENERAL MOTORS IS RECALLING 1,497,516 MY 1997-2003 BUICK REGAL, MY 1998-2003 CHEVROLET LUMINA, MONTE CARLO AND IMPALA, MY 1998-1999 OLDSMOBILE INTRIGUE, MY 1997-2003 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH A 3.8L V6 NATURALLY ASPIRATED ENGINE. SOME OF THESE VEHICLES HAVE A CONDITION IN WHICH DROPS OF ENGINE OIL MAY BE DEPOSITED ON THE EXHAUST MANIFOLD THROUGH HARD BRAKING.

Consequence:
IF THE MANIFOLD IS HOT ENOUGH AND THE OIL RUNS BELOW THE HEAT SHIELD, IT MAY IGNITE INTO A SMALL FLAME AND MAY SPREAD TO THE PLASTIC SPARK PLUG WIRE CHANNEL AND BEYOND INCREASING THE RISK OF AN ENGINE COMPARTMENT FIRE.

Remedy:
DEALERS WILL REMOVE THE SPARK PLUG WIRE RETENTION CHANNEL AT THE FRONT OF ENGINE AND INSTALL TWO NEW SPARK PLUG WIRE RETAINERS FREE OF CHARGE. THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN DURING MAY 2009. OWNERS MAY CONTACT CHEVROLET AT 1-800-630-2438, OLDSMOBILE AT 1-800-630-6537, AND PONTIAC AT 1-800-620-7668 OR HTTP://WWW.PONTIAC.COM OR HTTP:WWW.GMOWNERCENTER.COM.

Notes:
GM RECALL NO. 90047. OWNERS MAY ALSO CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV .


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 76 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Look, I can't even spell right...

      I meant "apart" not "a part"
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good motor. The GM 3800 reminds me of the Toyota 22R. Both engines typically are serviceable longer than the rest of the vehicle they are used in.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It seems kind of excessive to put a recall on 10 year old vehicles. In my case, we have a 98 Olds Intrigue with 170k on it. Never had a problem with engine fire but, it does have a cooling/over heating issue. I suppose if they didn't do something, some schmoe would sue them and really cause problems, in the midst of all of this Government screwing over...er...'rescuing'.

      I've been a life-long GM owner and will continue to be loyal to the Company. It's sad to see what is happening to them but, when you are paying out 3 times as much in pensions and benefits to former employees than you are to working employees, you have these problems. I'm glad we have Unions to protect employees but, feel like they could have made some concessions here and done the Company a favor. Hate to see Government oversight telling them what they can and can't produce because they get it wrong every time.

      That's my soap box. Best wishes!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Typical GM/Domestic quality at it's finest.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. No real problems until 10+ years of ownership.
        If anything it's commendable that they are giving a recall on cars built in 1997.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ken I meant his windshield leak.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Danny: About the leak, would a silicon sealant work fix the leak or is it in a place that's too noticeable?
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is a prejudiced opinion. People need to get over this aversion to domestics.
        They ARE getting better (maybe a bit too late, but still).
        • 5 Years Ago
        JV2K, I don't think the problem is that there is a leak, it's that if there's a leak, and the exhaust is hot, and the oil leaks past the heat sheild this could happen. I wonder how many actual fires there have been because of this. It obviously took long enough that the seals were beginning to age and leak in order for the problem to become prevalent enough to come to the NHTSA's attention.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Funny, my Olds Intrigue with the 3.5L V6 is just fine.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Same comment as to the urchin. Yes, GM had problems, but has made significant strides. Look at current models.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've no prejudice against domestics. I've been driving GM and Chrysler's for years (Chevy Silverados, Chevy Corvettes, Dodge Dakotas, SRT8 Jeep, etc).

        I am one of those domestic fan boys and even I can't deny that their reliability/quality is appalling. I want to love them, but it's so hard. Especially when you buy a new vehicle and have to promptly take it in for axle leaks, transmission problems, constant rattles EVERYWHERE in the interior, brake problems, etc. Heck, I can't even drive my Z06 in the rain since the door seals leak like absolute bastards and the best GM's warranty can do is blame it on an 'windshield replacement that destroyed the weather seals' and then refuse to fix it properly. (The car has the original OEM windshield).

        So if GM can't keep the fanboy's happy, how are they supposed to attract new customers?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well, sure they weren't the "oh so great" Honda quality a decade ago.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually this is "quality" at it's finest since this is one of the most reliable engines on the road. I have 120K miles on my Grand Prix and it has given me no problems mechanically and only minor electrical ones(the light on my radio went out).
      • 5 Years Ago
      What a fitting metaphor.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a 97 Bonneville 3800 series 3 with 225k kilometers, runs smooth,runs like a top, gobs of power and torque, and will do mid to high 30's on a long highway trip. So I have no complaints about this car. The intake manifold is pastic and needed to be replaced, but cost less than a Honda timing belt. I see the plastic intake seems to be a industry standard now anyway. If you keep your car maintained and replace parts as they wear out this will not happen, ei valve cover gaskets.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd imagine most of the vehicles listed are probably heading for the scrap merchant's yard pretty soon anyway.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You'd be surprised at how durable most of those models are.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Typical GM. No quality in anything they do. Love my foreign car. It's 6 years old, has over 150,000 miles, runs like a dream, one oil change a year, never put a dime into it and it's STILL worth over $15,000! Now that's a real car!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow, you're averaging 25,000 miles between oil changes, with not even a dime in general maintenance over a 150,000 miles and it's still worth $15,000? What kind of car do you have, Luvprincess? I need to get one.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No need to exagerate with a BMW. Apparently I'm able to go longer without an oil change. You can do that with a quality car. LoL
        • 5 Years Ago
        I average 8,000 to 10,000 miles between oil changes. My car is a BMW.
        Christopher
        • 5 Years Ago
        well i'm gonna say either 540i, X5 4.4i or maybe Z4 3.0 in any case miss Luvprincess you have a nice set of wheels
      • 5 Years Ago
      Geee, and i thought that GM "turned the corner" as fanboys like to say. I wonder where that corner is.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You did notice that these cars are all at least 6 years old, right?
        • 5 Years Ago
        In case you didn't notice, the recall is for model years 1997 through 2003. Seeing as the newest models involved in the recall are from SIX YEARS AGO, I would say that there has been enough time for GM to have turned a corner since then. Furthermore, if said 1997 model year vehicles haven't had a problem in the 12+ years they have been on the road, it's probably not much of an issue. I guess they could have just gone the Toyota route and denied everything until a class action lawsuit started getting them too much bad press.

        Oh by the way, which brand just ranked #1 in JD Power's Long Term Durability survey? That's what I thought.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Always negative are you. you must be hoot at parties.

        Funny how the Toyata recalls don't get the same press. But I am sure that point is lost on someone of your intellect.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I thought there for a minute that you just had sporadic attacks of stupidity. However, you had to go and prove me wrong, you're a full time IDIOT.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Dude, didn't u see vw was recalling 5000 R32s last week, this is a much smaller, deal, just 1,400,000 cars, and it's only a chance of a 'small' "fire". it doesn't take a fanboi to see the VW recall is a lot more serious.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I realize it's for illustration purposes only, but that Monte Carlo is an LS with the Competition Yellow Sport Appearance Package. Those have the 3.4 - not the 3800.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wow, yeah, that was a good catch.

        Well done!
        • 5 Years Ago
        My father was a Chevy salesman before he retired and I had a Competition Yellow 2002 Monte Carlo SS, so it was easy to spot a Yellow package LS with no fogs and the black pinstripes. Autoblog is sadly addictive, though...must...find...sunlight.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Great catch. Thank you. Pic has been adjusted.
      • 5 Years Ago
      We own a 98 Olds Intrigue with 175,000 miles on it. Last year my son was with friends at Target. Just after they'd gotten out of the car there was a lot of smoke coming from inside the hood. When they opened the engine compartment, flames shot up and engulfed the whole engine. Store personnel helped put the fire out with an extinguisher and the fire department was called to finish the job. The entire wiring harness was destroyed along withe other parts which essentially totaled the car. It has sat at my mechanic all these months as we've tried to get replacement parts from junk yards but to no avail. I'm wondering if GM will help with my problem.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Funny, my Olds Intrigue with the 3.5L V6 is just fine
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've always admired that engine. It's a shame GM gave up on it so soon.
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