An investigation by The Sun newspaper has discovered that the widely-reported Zafira fires issue could also cause Britain’s second-best-selling car, the Vauxhall Corsa, to burst into flames.
Vauxhall recalled 220,000 Zafira Bs in the UK last year following a series of fires. However, it’s now claimed the same issue, triggered by dodgy heater wiring, could be starting fires in Corsa D and E models built since 2006.
An engineer’s report commissioned by the tabloid said: “The resistive heating associated with Zafira B failure mode 2 has also been identified in the heater wiring harnesses of Vauxhall Corsa D models.
“A fire damaged Corsa D, with a history of wiring harness damage, was examined to reveal an origin of fire in the region of the heater system.
“The wiring harness and the failure mode identified in Corsa D models appears similar to those of GM vehicles Hummer H3 where a risk of fire led to recalls in 2015.
“I recommend that Vauxhall consider that the resistive heating that affected the Hummer vehicles produced by its parent company General Motors is also occurring in its UK Corsa model.”
The issue will be investigated by the BBC’s Watchdog programme at 8pm this evening, where a number of Corsa owners whose cars have gone up in flames will tell their story.
Julie Reynolds, from Chatham, told the BBC of the moment her Vauxhall Corsa D set alight in 2013. She arrived at work, where her manager told her to get out moments before “the whole car went up”, she said.
“The worst thing is my son could have been in that car. I wouldn’t have got him out in time.”
“There was one big explosion. All the windows went in. And then a next explosion. And then another explosion. And the engine fell to the ground. I was just in shock. I was just crying.”
A Facebook group has been established for owners of Vauxhalls that have set alight – with drivers of a number of models coming forward.
Bee Treena posted: “Today my new eight-week-old Vauxhall Mokka set alight while I was in traffic.”
Another person posted pictures of her burnt-out Vauxhall Adam Rocks.
The car manufacturer admits it has found faults with a small batch of 1.4-litre turbocharged Corsa models, but the BBC claims owners of other Corsas have come forward. Vauxhall denies these claims, saying: “We have no Safety Recalls related to fire for Corsa D derivatives other than that for the 1.4 Turbo.”
The company has recalled 2,767 1.4-litre turbo Corsa D models – but the recall only related to Black Edition models and a small number of SE and SRi variants.
These were all produced at the firm’s Eisenach assembly plant – with the majority being Black Edition models, identified by their five-spoke bi-colour alloy wheels. Only 46 SE and SRi models are said to be affected.
Vauxhall says that all affected customers have been written to using address data from the DVLA and so far more than a third of those customers have had the repair work completed. For those customers who have not had the repair work completed, reminder letters have also been sent out.
If you believe your car is eligible for the recall, you can contact Vauxhall on 0800 026 0867.
DVSA considering ‘further action’
The government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has added pressure on Vauxhall to recall any vehicles which could potentially feature dangerous faults.
DVSA chief executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “DVSA’s first priority is to protect everyone from unsafe vehicles and drivers.
“We are investigating reported faults with Vauxhall Corsa D and E models. Anyone who finds a serious safety defect with their vehicle should report it to us.
“We’ve also made it clear that it’s vital that Vauxhall should be doing everything possible to ensure the safety of its customers and their families. We’re also working with the Department for Transport to consider further action.”
Corsa fires: Vauxhall’s full statement
Customer safety is of the utmost importance and we take any report of fire very seriously.
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.
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 had resulted in a fire. A Safety Recall to address this issue was initiated in April 2016 for the 2,767 vehicles affected.
When customers report a fire to us we explain that an inspection may be necessary but that we need the permission of their insurance company before we can proceed. This avoids the risk of the customer’s insurance policy being invalidated.
Our preference is to conduct a joint investigation with the customer’s insurer but for a variety of reasons this is not always possible. For example, in some cases the insurance company has already conducted an investigation, in other cases the vehicle may have already been scrapped.
Following the Zafira B issue we strengthened our processes but even so it is not always possible to arrange an inspection.
When an inspection is possible the destructive nature of fire can make the process of identifying a pattern of fires with a common root cause very challenging.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that manufacturers frequently do not get to hear about fires in their vehicles. We found with Zafira B, for example, that many cases only emerged after media reports in October 2015. Some of these dated back several years.
Better access to vehicle fire data could help manufacturers with early detection of safety issues. We are therefore working through our industry body to understand how manufacturers can gain access to data in order to build a more complete picture of potential issues.