2014 Chevrolet Silverado. Photo courtesy of General Motors.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado. Photo courtesy of General Motors.

General Motors has identified an electronics defect in certain 2014 model-year Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks, but has asked federal safety regulators to exempt the vehicles from recall requirements because the problem is inconsequential and doesn’t compromise safety.

The instrument cluster may reset, GM said, if the driver uses steering-wheel controls to browse and select songs from an external device, such as an MP3 player, that’s plugged into one of the truck’s USB ports. When the instrument cluster resets the analog gauges and IDs, the shift position indicator and cruise control telltale will briefly turn off. Additionally, some of the instrument cluster telltales may also light up momentarily without proper cause. 

The electronics glitch potentially affects about 200,921 trucks manufactured from Jan. 29 through Oct. 28 of 2013. The automaker corrected the problem on trucks manufactured after that period.

In a petition submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, GM acknowledged that the malfunction doesn’t comply with all federal safety standards but requested an exemption because safety is unaffected. The automaker stressed that the glitch is brief, occurs only under a specific and rare set of circumstances, and has little effect on the truck’s normal operation.

This problem, identified in a test vehicle fleet, occurs only when the driver selects “browse” on the steering-wheel controls to select a second song and the total data in titles of the buffered songs exceeds 2,000 bytes, GM said. No truck owners have submitted complaints related to the problem.

GM said it is “aware of only 2 incidents of the subject condition occurring. These incidents were isolated to the test vehicle fleet (589 vehicles), which has accrued over 7 million total miles.”

In arguing for the noncompliance exemption, GM cited a similar exemption that regulators granted to Ford Motor Co. back in 1979. That case also involved momentary loss of telltale function, and NHTSA ruled that a recall wasn’t warranted, GM said.

The petition is posted on NHTSA's website and in the Federal Register. The public can submit comments about the request through March 26.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet