The BBC One TV programme Watchdog, broadcast on Wednesday 7th December 2016, featured a section referencing fires in Vauxhall Corsa models. The following customer information outlines Vauxhall’s response to the six customer cases highlighted by Watchdog.
Vauxhall have been approached by BBC One TV’s Watchdog programme to comment on Corsa D fires and have been provided details of six customer cases for response.
Vauxhall Corsa D is one of our most popular models, with over 700,000 sold in the UK between 2006 and 2014. Earlier this year we identified a potential fire related issue with a specific Corsa D variant equipped with the 1.4 Turbo petrol engine. Nine cases had previously been reported to us, which we investigated. Two of these cases had resulted in a fire. A Safety Recall to address this issue was initiated in April 2016 for the 2,767 vehicles affected.
Vauxhall is not aware of a fire risk to any other variant of Corsa D. Fires can occur in all makes of cars and it is important that thorough investigations are carried out before determining if there is a manufacturing defect that can relate to fire.
Fires can occur for a wide variety of reasons and it’s worth noting that, on average, there are 18,000 vehicle fires a year across all manufacturers in the UK*. It is estimated that there are c35 million vehicles registered in the UK.
Better access to vehicle fire data could help manufacturers with early detection of safety issues and we welcome any initiatives in this area.
Customers with concerns relating to the issues raised by Watchdog are advised to visit www.vauxhall.co.uk/watchdog.
*Source: Auto Express 14th September 2016; based on UK Fire and Rescue Service data
December 7th 2016
Will Vauxhall consider a recall of models, other than the 2,767 Corsa Turbo 1.4 cars, following these reports of fires?
Vauxhall initiated a safety recall of Corsa D variants equipped with a 1.4 Turbo engine in April 2016. No other variants are affected and there is no other safety issue that Vauxhall is aware of which can lead to fire in Corsa D models.
Will Vauxhall investigate the causes of these fires?
Vauxhall will investigate fires in its vehicles providing we have the permission of the customer and the vehicle’s insurer. With regard to the six cases identified to Vauxhall by Watchdog, three have not previously made contact with Vauxhall so we have had no awareness of an issue or the opportunity to inspect. With regard to two of the cases, an offer to inspect the vehicle was made but not taken up. The sixth case, related to a customer who advised that her Insurer would contact us if deemed necessary. Contact was made by the Insurer but not until several months later when the vehicle was no longer available for inspection.
Subsequent to being contacted by Watchdog, Vauxhall have conducted an inspection of two of the vehicles which are still available for inspection. While a full forensic investigation is ongoing, initial learnings suggest engine related fires and no manufacturer defect.
What are Vauxhall’s criteria for a recall?
Vauxhall follows the criteria for recalls as laid down in The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 and as referenced in the DVSA Manufacturers’ Guide to Recalls in the UK Automotive Sector.
Does Vauxhall support a database of car fires, as exists in the US?
Vauxhall has already been active initiating discussions with our industry body SMMT, with regard to gaining better industry access to data from Insurance Companies on vehicle fires. We welcome all activities which can support better data and reporting processes with regard to vehicle fires.
I have heard of fires in Vauxhall Corsa models on Watchdog, which models are affected?
Vauxhall launched a Safety Recall on 19th April 2016 for a specific Corsa D variant fitted with a 1.4 Turbo charged petrol engine. This Safety Recall was subsequently revised on 10th August 2016 mandating the replacement of the Vacuum Pump Assembly. There were 2,767 Corsa 1.4 Turbo models built at the Eisenach plant and the Safety Recall relates to the potential for a short circuit to occur in the Vacuum Pump Relay box due to water ingress. We have had nine cases reported, all have been investigated and confirmed to relate to this specific issue. Of these only two vehicles caught fire.
All affected customers have been written to using address data from the DVLA. If customers want to check if their vehicle has had the Safety Recall completed they can contact Vauxhall Customer Care on 0800 026 0867 or they can access the Motorcodes website on the following link http://www.motorcodes.co.uk/vehicle-recall to see if their vehicle has an outstanding Safety Recall.
Is this the same issue that caused fires in Zafira B causing fires in Corsa?
No. The cause of fires in Zafira B was specific to right hand drive versions of that model alone. No other Vauxhall vehicle has been impacted or is vulnerable to the same issue. Vauxhall have no cases reported of Corsa D vehicle fires related to the heating and ventilation system. A number of Corsa D vehicles produced between 2007 and 2009 had a supplier issue which could lead to overheating of the wiring connector leading to the wax fuse resistor. However, while a number of Vauxhall customers experienced a melted wiring connector to the resistor, no cases of HVAC related vehicle fire have been established.
Why doesn’t Vauxhall always inspect cases of fire?
Our procedure, when customers report a vehicle fire, is to advise them that an inspection may be necessary. We explain that we will need the permission and involvement of their insurance company. This avoids the risk of the customer's policy being invalidated. This procedure has been reinforced and made more rigorous following learnings from Zafira B. However, it is not always possible to arrange an inspection. Even when inspections have been conducted, either by Vauxhall or insurers, the destructive nature of fire can prevent the determination of the root cause.
Clearly, if we have not been able to inspect a vehicle it is not possible for us to determine a root cause. However we do ensure that data related to fires is fed into our internal system, which can help us identify trends and potential issues. Fires can occur for a wide variety of reasons, with the UK Fire and Rescue Service recognising over 18,000 vehicle fires per year based upon a three-year average across all manufacturers (Source: Auto Express 14th September 2016.)
I have a Corsa 1.4, how can I tell if it is a Corsa D 1.4 Turbo?
Corsa D 1.4 Turbo models were mainly produced as Black Edition models, in black, with a Turbo badge on the right hand side of the tailgate and featured unique bi-colour 5 spoke alloy wheels. Just 46 1.4 Turbos were produced in SE and SRI variants. If you are still not clear if your vehicle is a Corsa D 1.4 Turbo you can contact Vauxhall Customer Care on 0800 026 0867 with your registration number.
Why does Vauxhall think the issue that can cause fire in Corsa D 1.4 Turbo only impacts that model and not all Corsa models?
Corsa D 1.4 Turbo models, of which there were 2,767 built at the Eisenach plant, are subject to an ongoing Safety Recall related to the potential for a short circuit to occur in the Vacuum Pump Relay box due to water ingress. We have had nine cases reported, which we have investigated, and are confirmed to relate to this specific issue, and of these only two vehicles caught fire.
No other Corsa D model has a Vacuum Pump relay system so no similar problem can occur in other Corsa D variants.
I have just purchased a Corsa D 1.4 Turbo and I don’t know if it needs the Safety Recall?
You can check if your Corsa D 1.4 Turbo requires the Safety Recall by contacting Vauxhall Customer Care on 0800 026 0867 or access the Motorcodes website on the following link http://www.motorcodes.co.uk/vehicle-recall to enter your vehicles details to see if it has an outstanding Safety Recall.
Is there more that Vauxhall is doing to provide early warning of fire issues?
One action Vauxhall is currently pursuing is to try and access more information on vehicle fires from the insurance industry. There is currently no requirement for insurance companies to notify manufacturers about fire cases and with Zafira B we found many cases were only reported to us after a spike in media interest in October 2015. These included incidents dating back several years.
Better access to data about vehicle fires could help all manufacturers with early detection of safety issues. We are therefore working through our industry body to understand what data sharing opportunities could be put in place to provide greater visibility in this area.