GM recalls 218,000 Chevrolet Aveos for potential fire hazard

UPDATED: 5/21/14 2:24 pm. ET -- adds details, correction

Editor's note: An earlier version of this report miscalculated the total number of GM recalls. It has been corrected.

General Motors is recalling more than 218,000 older Chevrolet small cars in the United States and its territories due to a potential fire hazard, bringing U.S. recalls this year to 29 and a record number of vehicles.

The recall, and a related smaller action, is the latest announced by GM, the largest U.S. automaker. The recall with the highest profile was of cars with defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths. The automaker has been criticized by safety advocates and fined by U.S. safety regulators for its delayed response in catching the faulty switch.

A day after recalling 2.4 million vehicles in the United States, GM is recalling 218,000 Chevrolet Aveo cars in the United States from the 2004-08. The problem with the cars stems from a faulty part in their daytime running lights that could overheat and cause a fire, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

GM is recalling 214 Chevy Optra cars from the same model years that were sold in U.S. territories for the same problem. Both cars were built in South Korea. GM said it was aware of some fires related to the problem but did not say how many. It said there were no reports of injuries or fatalities.

"We are continuing to investigate," GM said in a statement. The company said it did not yet have the number of vehicles affected by the recall outside of the U.S. market.

Last week, GM recalled 2.7 million U.S. vehicles and was fined a record $35 million by NHTSA. It also faces probes by the U.S. Department of Justice, Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission and several states for its handling of the faulty ignition switch, which engineers discovered in 2001. GM has been criticized for not recalling the vehicles affected by the faulty ignition switch before this year.

Meanwhile, GM expects to complete its internal investigation of its handling of the issue within the next two weeks.

Today's Aveo recall increases GM's count from Jan. 1 through today to 29 recalls covering more than 13.8 million U.S. vehicles, although those figures count some vehicles more than once because they are being called back to fix multiple potential safety defects.

GM took a $1.3 billion charge in the first quarter for recall-repair costs and said Tuesday that it expects to take another $400 million charge in the second quarter for the same reason.

Since the recall began in February, GM has been hit with more than 70 lawsuits from customers who say their cars lost value because of the ignition defect, according to court documents.

Two U.S. senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would require federal judges to consider the public's interest before granting requests to seal court records in cases that have an impact on public health and safety.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina offered the bill in response to the GM ignition switch recall. GM has reached confidential settlements in several lawsuits brought by families of victims of accidents that have been linked to the ignition defect.

"GM's recent legal maneuvering reaching secret settlements shows why this legislation is essential," Blumenthal said. "This legislation would have enabled people to be aware of the threats to safety posed by the faulty ignition switches, and deaths could have been prevented."

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