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GM recalls older 3.8L V6 cars over oil leak

Three previous recalls have attempted to address the issue, but owners are still reporting engine-compartment fires.

General Motors has issued a recall for approximately a million older vehicles powered by its 3.8-liter V6 engine.

The company warns that engine oil can leak past the valve cover gasket on the front cylinder bank, especially during hard braking, and drip onto the exhaust manifold. The hot surface can cause the oil to ignite, resulting in a fire that spreads throughout the engine compartment.

The same issue had been addressed in no less than three previous recalls, starting with a 2008 campaign. Resolutions included installing a revised valve cover gasket and/or new spark plug wire retainers.

Despite implementing three different fix campaigns, GM's legal department continued to receive claims related to engine compartment fires in the subject vehicles. A follow-up investigation determined that some of the fires were in repaired cars, while others involved 2004-model-year vehicles that were not included in the initial recalls.

The latest campaign lists the 1998-1999 Chevy Lumina and Oldsmobile Intrigue, the 1997-2004 Buick Regal and Pontiac Grand Prix, the 2000-2004 Impala, and the 1998-2004 Monte Carlo.

The company has not yet finalized an improved remedy for the persistent problems. In the meantime, owners are advised to park their vehicle outside to minimize the injury risk from a fire involving an unattended vehicle.

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