Under Federal law, automakers are required to notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of any faults and flaws which may cause a vehicle to no-longer comply with appropriate safety standards.
These recalls — listed on NTHSA’s SaferCar.Gov website — can cover everything from a discovered manufacturing fault with the way a vehicle was assembled in the factory to a software fault with an on-board computer system. And when discovered, these faults and subsequent recall notices can cover anything from a few hundred to tens of thousands of vehicles.
But last week, GM announced what we think must be the smallest recall we’ve seen: a single solitary 2014 Chevrolet Volt electric car as part of an eleven-car manufacturer recall to fix an incorrectly assembled inner tie rod on the front steering assembly of affected cars.
The recall also involves several 2014 and 2015 model-year Chevrolet Cruze cars, including just one Canadian-Market 2014 Chevrolet Cruze, all for the same problem.
That’s because the outgoing 2011-2015 Chevrolet Volt, while only available as a range-extended electric car, is built upon the same GM Delta II compact car platform as the 2008-2015 Chevrolet Cruze and uses the same mechanical components for its steering assembly.
As the official recall notes, the defect stems from an incorrectly tightened inner tie rod bolt which could separate from the steering gear of affected cars, resulting in loss of steering and increasing the risk of a crash. The cause, says GM is an error in the steering gear supplier’s inner tie rod assembly machine “that allowed the inner tie rod to be released from the assembly line with a lower than specified torque.”
In terms of date range, GM says the fault has been found in 2014 and 2015 model year Chevrolet Cruze cars made between November 8 2013 and March 12 2015, representing a tiny proportion of the number of cars made during that period.
The Chevrolet Volt recalled rolled off the production line on April 11, 2014.
Here at Transport Evolved, we do try and notify readers when there’s a significant recall program affecting an alternative-fuelled or advanced technology vehicle. For recalls this small, we’d ordinarily not bother.
But this time, we’ve decided to because this particular recall is a particularly good illustration of how automakers must notify the correct authorities of a manufacturing defect — no matter how small.
In fact Nissan had a similar recall back in May 2014, affecting just 300 or so LEAF electric cars. In that case, it was a for a suspected missing welds on the frames of affected cars. Despite involving a few hundred suspected cars however, the actual affected cars were far smaller.
Both cases highlight how hard automakers and government agencies work to ensure that the car you drive is as safe as possible.
As with all recalls of recent model-year cars, GM will undertake the repairs free of charge for affected Cruze and Volt owners at their local dealership under its usual recall program practices.
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