Feds looking into Toyota, GM door fires

Federal safety regulators are looking into reported door fires caused by power window switches in several Toyota vehicles, as well as some General Motors vehicles. The Toyota and GM problems appear to be unrelated. The companies got their power window switches from different parts suppliers, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said.

From the Associated Press:

The government has expanded an investigation into fires that can start in the doors of several Toyota models, adding 600,000 Camrys and other vehicles to the probe. Federal safety regulators also are investigating a similar fire problem in the doors of 2006 and 2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer SUVs made by General Motors.

The Toyota investigation now includes 1.4 million cars and SUVs from the 2007 to 2009 model years. When the probe began in February, it involved more than 800,000 Camrys and RAV4 SUVs from the 2007 model year.

Certain Camrys from the 2008 and 2009 model years, as well as some 2007 to 2009 Yaris subcompacts and all 2008 Highlander Hybrid SUVs, have been added to the investigation, the NHTSA said on its website Monday. The vehicles were built from September of 2006 through August of 2008, the safety agency said.

So far, Toyota and the government have received 161 complaints of fires involving the vehicles. Nine people have been hurt, according to government documents.

All the vehicles use the same power window switch in the driver’s door. The switches can overheat and cause fires, the government said.

Owners of the Toyotas who smell smoke or feel heat in the doors should call their dealers or take them in for an inspection, Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons said. The company is cooperating with NHTSA in the investigation, he said.

NHTSA posted documents on Saturday saying that the GM probe also had been upgraded to a full engineering analysis. Originally the investigation covered more than 309,000 TrailBlazers from the 2006 and 2007 model years, but the government said that it’s up to nearly 342,000 vehicles.

NHTSA and GM have received 242 complaints about the problem, including 28 fires. No one has been hurt, according to the documents.

The government said Saturday that it also will evaluate other GM vehicles with the same underpinnings. They include the Buick Rainier, GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 9-7X SUVs. GM said it is investigating two reports of fires in Envoys and one in a 97-X.

Several of the TrailBlazer fires occurred while the vehicles were moving, but others happened when the engines were off and the vehicles were unattended.

The TrailBlazer was discontinued in 2009. The SUVs are not being recalled.

GM has said any TrailBlazer owner who smells smoke or whose power windows stop working should contact their dealer.