General Motors is recalling nearly 780,000 crossover SUVs mainly in North America because the rear power lift gates can suddenly fall and hit people. The company said today that it has 56 reports of injuries caused by the problem. The recall covers the Buick Enclave from 2008 to 2012; the Chevrolet Traverse from 2009 to 2012; the GMC Acadia from 2007 to 2012; and Saturn Outlook from 2007 to 2010. GM says in documents posted today by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that dirt can get into the gas struts that hold up the power rear hatches, causing them to wear and fail. A rod system designed to close the hatches slowly if struts fail may not work because the software controlling it may not detect the problem, GM said.
Dealers will replace faulty struts and update lift gate control motor software to prevent rapid closing. The company has not yet come up with a schedule for when the recall will begin. The problem first surfaced in September of 2010 when a company driver reported a lift gate failure. GM investigated, but because the rate of incidents was low at the time, decided to continue monitoring the problem. Last November, GM got two more reports and opened another investigation. This time, it decided a recall was needed, according to documents GM filed with NHTSA. The 56 injury reports were discovered during the second investigation by checking complaints. GM says struts on SUVs built after March 1, 2012, were installed differently and are less vulnerable to dirt particles.