The Hummer brand has a particularly colorful history. The car began as military vehicle designed by AM General Corporation in the 1980s for military troop and cargo transportation during the invasion of Panama and the Gulf War. They were formally called High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) and nicknamed “Humvees.”
In 1992, the first commercial version of the vehicle, the Hummer, went on the market in the US. It was unique for its enormous size and weight (8000 lb) and low gas mileage (9 city/12 highway). The first Hummer ever produced was purchased by Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 1998, GM purchased the brand from AM General Corporation and quickly introduced the Hummer H2 and H3 models.
The Hummer remained popular for almost ten years, with GM selling about 30,000 a year and a high of 70,000 in 2006 In 2007, however, sales began to drop due to high gas prices and increased concern for oil conservation. During the recession in 2008, GM put the brand up for sale. Although in 2009 Hummer was almost bought by the Chinese company Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, the deal fell through and the Hummer is no longer in production anywhere in the world.
Hummer Defects and Recalls
This section by no means represents a comprehensive list of manufacturing and operating malfunctions, and it is advisable to check for complete information on any recalls that may apply to your vehicle in order to quickly and safely address them. The following information, however, compiles some of the current common issues that Hummer owners may experience.
H3 & HT3 Dashboard Catching on Fire
One of the most frightening defects that Hummer owners have experienced in recent years involves overheating and the potential for fire within the dashboard. The defect occurs due to a faulty electrical part in the heating and cooling system. A connector module in the fan tends to overheat, melt the plastic surrounding it, and occasionally ignite the surrounding material.
While no major injuries have yet been reported, 20 reports have been filed on the issue to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), three of which included minor burn injuries. GM has allegedly received reports of 42 fires. In two incidences, the fires completely destroyed the vehicle. GM has issued a recall for 165,000 vehicles including the Hummer H3 from 2006 to 2010 and the HT3 2009 and 2010 pickups. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups have garnered similar complaints; however, there have been no recalls for these vehicles, the platform mates of the H3.
GM has come under criticism for failing to report and/or investigate the string of incidents for an extended period of time. The first reported fire occurred in August of 2008, but the recall did not occur until July of 2015 when NHSTA told them to issue a recall or they would initiate a formal investigation. This response comes after GM's notorious failure to report and recall the faulty ignition switches the company had installed in 2.6 million vehicles which caused over 100 deaths.
H2 Wheels Falling Off
In 2004, federal regulators launched an investigation to address three reports of wheels falling off of the Hummer H2. The phenomenon was most likely due to a “fracture in the steering knuckle which allows the wheel to turn.” All three drivers lost control of their vehicles, and, in one of the three instances of wheel detachment, the driver swerved into oncoming traffic and crashed into a ditch on the opposite side of the road. At the time of the investigation, around 60,000 units of the potentially affected vehicles remained on the road. No official recall has been issued for this problem, and the vehicles affected included the 2003 and 2004 H2s.
GM Steering Lockup
Although not specific to Hummers, GM has also been forced to settle lawsuits with customers concerning a common issue with steering lockups in their trucks and SUVs. GM reportedly views this loss of power steering as a "normal characteristic" of the function of larger vehicles, but customers often disagree. The vehicles, including the Hummer H2, have a tendency to lose their power steering when the driver compresses the brakes as they turn, a common technique used during parking and low speed maneuvering. In 2008, Wisconsin plumber Todd Van Natta was awarded 120,000 dollars after suing GM for failing to refund or replace his GMC pickup truck for this exact defect. There have been no recalls for this defect for these models of cars; however, in 2010 GM did issue a recall for 1.3 million vehicles which might experience a sudden loss of electric steering assistance.
Hummer Drivers Ticketed More Often
In a related story, in 2009, Quality Planning Corp., an insurance risk analyzation company, found that Hummer drivers were 4.63 times more likely to be issued a ticket than the average driver. Various sources have speculated the reason for this disparity. Some say that Hummer drivers are more bold and take more risks on the road because they derive a “sense of power from their vehicle,” while others argue that the position of the driver makes it easier for them to miss traffic signs. Some even suggest that law enforcement agents target Hummer drivers.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
While the safety ratings of Hummers have remained consistently high for all three models, certain defects may still endanger drivers and/or passengers. At the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, we understand how important it is to trust that your vehicle will protect you, not cause you harm and injury. You deserve someone who will fight to protect your interests and help keep dangerous vehicles off the road. If you are considering filing a claim against your vehicle's automaker for any reason, contact us today for a free case consultation. You can reach us at (303) 852-2223 or online here.