Carmaker General Motors (GM) has announced a recall of nearly 8500 vehicles due to serious problems with their transmissions. According to the recall notice, affected vehicles are at risk of rolling away unless the parking brake is engaged.
Cars named in the recall are primarily 2023 year models. Affected vehicles include:
- 2022-2023 Cadillac XT5
- 2023 Cadillac XT6
- 2023 Chevrolet Blazer
- 2023 Chevrolet Traverse
- 2023 GMC Acadia
These are some of GM’s most popular SUV and crossover models, meaning thousands of vehicles have potentially deadly transmission problems on the roads.
According to GM, the problem is the result of the use of incorrect parts during the construction of the transmission. Specifically, affected vehicles may have been built with “dimensionally incorrect” sun gears, which are central components in the planetary gear set that allows a transmission to shift gears. As a result, drivers of affected cars often notice grinding or clicking noises coming from the front of the vehicle. More importantly, the faulty gears can lead the half-shaft responsible for the driver’s side wheel to disengage from the transmission. This can lead to the rollaway problem mentioned in the recall.
This transmission recall is unusual because it affects primarily brand-new vehicles. Many recalls are issued years after a line has been released because it takes time for the flaws to become obvious. However, the GM transmission recall occurred less than a year after most affected vehicles were sold. As such, all vehicles are also under warranty. If they face additional problems in the future, owners could quickly be eligible to file lemon law claims against GM.
Below, we explain the risks of faulty transmissions, signs your transmission may fail, and when a recalled car becomes eligible for lemon law claims.
Risks of Faulty Transmissions
The transmission is one of the most central features of an operational vehicle. It’s responsible for taking the energy generated by the engine and sending it to the wheels. Without a functional transmission, your car cannot move.
The specific issue with GM vehicles is more complex, though. The faulty gears are partly responsible for keeping the half-shafts engaged with the transmission. Normally, a failing transmission will cause the wheels to stop moving. However, if the half-shaft disengages, the wheel is no longer under the engine’s control. It is spinning freely in its axle as if the vehicle was in neutral. It won’t suddenly stop rolling but is free to spin unless the brakes are actively engaged.
This means these faulty transmissions are less likely to cause serious accidents when vehicles operate. Drivers should have time to react to a reduction in drive power if the half-shaft fully disengages and pull over safely. However, the car will not be able to move again once it is parked, so drivers must be careful about where they park.
A more critical problem unique to the disengaged half-shafts is that the transmission can no longer prevent the wheel from moving. As such, affected vehicles pose a rollaway risk unless the manual parking brake is on. This may cause cars to roll into traffic or even run over the driver if they get out to inspect the problem. If you have a 2023 Cadillac XT5 or XT6, a Chevrolet Blazer or Traverse, or a GMC Acadia, you should always engage your parking brake when leaving your vehicle or putting it in park until the flaw is repaired.
Signs Your Transmission Is Failing
GM will mail recall notices to affected SUVs and crossovers owners on May 1st. You can also check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website or call the customer service hotline for the Chevrolet, GMC, or Cadillac brands to see if your car may be involved.
Even if your car is not affected by the recall, you should still monitor it for signs of failure. Many recalls are expanded after the initial announcement as more cars are identified to have problems. Signs your vehicle’s transmission is faulty or the drive shaft has disengaged include:
- Grinding or clicking noises from underneath the front of your car
- The gears change unexpectedly
- The vehicle jerks or sputters when accelerating
- Your RPM meter frequently exceeds 3500
- The car seems to pull toward the driver’s side
- The engine starts, but the vehicle won’t move
If you notice any of these problems, you should take your car to the dealership immediately to identify the problem.
When Do Recalled Cars Become Lemons?
A single recall is insufficient for a vehicle to be considered a lemon under California law. Recalls are intended to allow automakers to repair problems without refunding or replacing vehicles entirely. However, a recall can be the first step toward a lemon claim.
In California, a car is considered a lemon if it’s still under warranty and demonstrates a manufacturing defect that affects its value, utility, or safety. The manufacturer must then fail to repair the defect in a reasonable number of attempts. This is defined as:
- Four tries for a problem that is not life-threatening
- Two tries for life-threatening issues
- A total of 30 days at the mechanic out of service due to one or more manufacturing defects
In other words, if a recalled car is repaired, but the problem comes back, or if it is out of service for more than 30 days due to manufacturing flaws, your GM is a lemon.
Bring Your Concerns to Expert Lemon Law Attorneys
If you’re wondering whether your Chevrolet, GMC, or Cadillac is a lemon, don’t hesitate to get help. At Johnson & Buxton – The Lemon Law Guys, we specialize in helping California car owners hold manufacturers accountable for faulty vehicles. We can help you determine if you have grounds for a claim, then represent you during the proceedings. Learn more about how we can help if your GM or Chevrolet is lemon by scheduling your consultation today.