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19
May
2016

Vauxhall Zafira fires: all Zafira B models recalled again

Vauxhall Zafira fires: all Zafira B models recalled again

After car several car fires, Vauxhall is launching a second round of recalls on the Zafira B model. Last year, Vauxhall informed all 234,938 Zafira owners in the UK about improper repairs to the blower motor resistor potentially creating a fire hazard and began to fix thousands of affected cars.

 

Vauxhall has now launched a second recall in order to "improve the overall robustness of the system." The second recall will replace the current soldered fuse resistor with a wax fuse resistor, reducing the opportunity for manipulation. The company will contact all 234,938 customers to inform them of the required work. It is planning to start sending letters during the month of August 2016. Everyone here at TVS is completely gob smacked!

 

Like the first recall, owners will see the works conducted free of charge and when the recalls are complete, all vehicles will have a new wax fuse resistor, a new blower motor and a new moulding at the base of the windscreen to address water ingress problems.

 

How did the original recall start?

 

Last year, Zafira owners began reporting problems with the heating and ventilation system in the Zafira ‘B’ models, on sale from 2009 to 2014, while the London Fire Brigade  said it has extinguished 71 such fires - not including arson attacks - since 2013, compared to just 38 in the previous four years. Concerned owners started their own Facebook page and brought the problem to the attention of the BBC Watchdog programme.

 

Vauxhall’s inspections have involved random checks of 1,000 cars, of which 2.6% have been found to have badly repaired fuses. The fuse is designed to deactivate the system in event of a fault, to prevent overheating. However, Auto Express was given exclusive access to some of the unauthorised repairs where the fuse has been bypassed through highly dangerous, yet ingenious means – including using copper wire to reconnect the fuse terminals, holding it together with a crocodile clip or even screwing it back in place. How ludicrous!

 

Healthy fuses use a metal spring that is held in place by a special copper-free solder, designed to release the spring and break the circuit if the temperature reaches 184 degrees Celsius. A replacement unit would cost less than £30, but some repairers have made their own attempts to reconnect the system, including using normal plumbing or electrical solder, which means the fuse won’t break at the required temperature. That can lead to unwanted high temperatures which can cause a fire in the system, with the investigations and correct repair method now being approved by the DVSA.

 

Vauxhall Chairman Rory Harvey told Auto Express: “We want all Vauxhall owners to be safe in their cars - safety is paramount to us at Vauxhall.

 

“We recognise that some of these cars could be on their third, fourth or even fifth owners and they may have vehicles which have been improperly repaired without their knowledge or before they bought the vehicle. That’s why we wanted to instigate this safety recall."

 

Vauxhall advised owners of affected cars who are aware of repairs being carried out to the heating and ventilation system or with a currently faulty system to only use their fans on the fourth speed to demist the windows, which uses a different fuse system to the first three fan speed.

 

After replacing the blower motor, Vauxhall's 400- strong dealer network will now begin to work on replacing the current soldered fuse resistor with a wax fuse resistor to make sure no improper repairs are made to the system again.

 

How Facebook raised the Zafira fires issue

 

Worried mums Sue Freemantle, from Ivybridge, Devon, Claire Wheatley, from Plymouth and Jade Hellewell, from Preston, Lancs, joined forces to start a Facebook campaign to bring the Zafira fires issue to light when their Vauxhall Zafira models unexpectedly caught fire with children and pets inside.

 

The group garnered the support of more than 3,000 members, with several other owners claiming on the page that their MPVs went up in flames, too.

 

The group garnered the support of more than 3,000 members, with several other owners claiming on the page that their MPVs went up in flames, too.

 

Sue told Auto Express: “I started the group to raise awareness about these car fires after Vauxhall essentially washed their hands of my plight. I’m gobsmacked by how many others have been through what my family have had to endure.” She added that the group has been set up not to gain compensation but in order to save lives in the future.

Following complaints Vauxhall launched its internal investigation and that led to the recall. A spokesman said: "While the number of incidents is very low in proportion to the number of vehicles on the road, we take this issue very seriously and will take further action.

 

Vauxhall immediately initiated an ‘inspection and rework’ programme, contacting owners of the 234,938 affected cars – which was swiftly upgraded to a full safety recall, with the Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) helping to ensure no potentially affected cars slip through the net.

 

What is causing the Vauxhall Zafira fires?

 

The DVSA has now agreed with Vauxhall’s root cause investigations, which have identified the cause of fires to have been faulty repairs of a thermal fuse in a resistor that forms part of the heating and ventilation system of cars with air conditioning or with no air conditioning – cars with climate control are not affected.

 

In the first recall Vauxhall replaced the thermal fuse in affected cars, while also replacing the cabin pollen filter and checking for a hole in the windscreen surround that might have been caused by the refitting of a windscreen and could let water into the system, causing corrosion to the fan. Corrosion of the blower unit, or wear and tear through use, is the most likely fault, which should trigger the safe activation of the thermal fuse.

 

"The safety of our customers is the number one priority. Our investigations have found that a number of incidents have occurred due to previous repairs being performed improperly or using certain non-genuine parts."

Owners are advised to contact their Vauxhall dealer if they notice any "unusual characteristics" with the heating and ventilation system - for example a squeaking noise from the dashboard. Dealers have been told to arrange inspections free of charge.


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