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Tricky Terrain: GMC to recall 727,000 Terrains in U.S. for headlight issue

Toronto, Ontario — General Motors is being called on to get its house in order as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has directed the automaker to recall approximately 727,000 2010–2017 GMC Terrain vehicles in the U.S. for safety standards non-compliance.

GM’s request to deem the issue inconsequential was shot down by NHTSA regulators on Friday and the recall process is now pending.

The issue came to light following a consumer complaint that prompted a GMC investigation that found the low-beam headlamps on the Terrain “do not meet the photometry requirements of paragraph S10.15.6 and Table XIX of FMVSS No. 108,” according to the NHTSA.

“Specifically, a reflection from the headlamps’ housing is directed 80 degrees outboard and 45 degrees upward, as measured from each lamp’s optical axis, which illuminates two small areas high above the vehicle. When tested by GM, this reflection from a single point on each lamp measured approximately 450-470 candela (cd),” read the NHTSA’s summary.

The OEM contends that the issue, although a regulatory violation, is “inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety” and does not warrant a recall.

According to the NHTSA, GM said the noncompliance caused by the reflection had no effect on the safety of oncoming or surrounding vehicles; that it had received only one complaint, and was unaware of any related crashes or injuries; and that the headlamps comply with global requirements.

The NHTSA pushed back saying that it cannot yet be definitively stated if the issue is inconsequential, but pointed out that they rarely are.

“The burden of establishing the inconsequentiality of a failure to comply with a performance requirement in a standard—as opposed to a labeling requirement— is more substantial and difficult to meet,” NHTSA said. “Accordingly, the agency has not found many such noncompliances inconsequential.”

Canada’s counterpart to FMVSS No. 108 is the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 (CMVSS 108), which is nearly identical but carries additional requirements for daytime running lights.

As it stands, a recall has not yet been issued in Canada.

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