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Vauxhall Car Fire Investigation

The Sun Newspaper - May 2016

When our publicist Jonathan Hartley was contacted by a Facebook group with serious concerns about the safety of Vauxhall Zafira cars he helped set up an investigation with The Sun newspaper.
 
The Sun newspaper hired a court approved investigator to examine the claims of the Facebook group.
 
The subsequent report which was presented to Vauxhall proved the group's theory that even repaired Zafira B cars could still catch fire.
 
As a result of the investigation Vauxhall was forced to issue a further recall more than 230,000 cars.
 
Read the full story below:
 
VAUXHALL last night ordered a second recall of Zafiras after a Sun investigation revealed the cars were bursting into flames AFTER being repaired.
 
The car giant faces a £50million bill and an MPs’ grilling amid claims by customers of a cover-up.
 
They first had to recall 235,000 Zafira B models last December after 200 fires.
 
The firm told investigating MPs then the problem was caused by 'improper' repairs of a heating system fuse which would be replaced.
 
All the vehicles will have their heating system motor blowers replaced in August.
 
Last night Zafira owners claimed the firm had covered up the problem to save cash and protect its reputation.
 
Mum-of-five Sue Freemantle, 37, from Ivybridge, Devon, saw her Zafira catch fire after the first recall.
 

She said: “Our lives have been put in danger.
 
“Vauxhall have been desperately trying to cover it up.
 
“It’s disgusting.
 
“I have no doubt this second recall wouldn’t have happened without The Sun’s investigation.”
 
Vauxhall chairman Rory Harvey claimed the fuse was the problem when he addressed the parliamentary Transport Select Committee in December.
 
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which oversaw the first recall, agreed with him.
 
But top forensic engineers GBB commissioned by The Sun say that claim is wrong.
Their report shows a design fault means the blower motor in the heating system rusts prematurely.
 
 
As it begins to stick it pulls more current and creates the conditions for a fire.
 
The research was led by Phil Hoyes, who conducts probes for insurance giants, the police and the NHS.
 
Vauxhall and the DVSA dispute the GBB report but on April 8 all Vauxhall garages were told to carry out visual inspections of the blower motor.
 
Then came Vauxhall’s surprise announcement yesterday.
 
GBB’s claims are backed up by four Zafira owners who had no work done on the fuses but still suffered fires. 
 
Another five drivers had blazes after going in for the first recall and being told by Vauxhall their cars were safe.
 
Motoring groups blasted Vauxhall and slammed the DVSA for being too quick to accept the firm’s explanations.
 
Steve Gooding, of the RAC Foundation, said: “This report appears unequivocal.
“The fault lies at Vauxhall’s door.”
 
Auto Express editor Steve Fowler said: “Vauxhall needs to act fast to ensure 100 per cent safety for all owners, regardless of cost.”
 
Tory MP Huw Merriman said he would haul bosses back in front of the Transport Select Committee.
 
The MP said: “For Vauxhall to have already recalled these Zafiras, only for some of the cars to continue to catch fire, and for The Sun to have to provide the engineering fix, is both alarming and extraordinary.
 
 
“Hats off to The Sun for persisting until Vauxhall accepted the findings.”
 
Jacqueline Young, of Slater and Gordon which has been representing Zafira owners who have had fires, said: “At worst Vauxhall has sought to conceal a potentially life-endangering technical fault.
 
“The situation also begs questions about the efficacy of the DVSA.”
 
DVSA boss Gareth Llewellyn said: “We have told Vauxhall a second recall is needed, which will be carried out.”
 
A Vauxhall spokesman said: “When we announced the recall we said we’d keep the situation under review.
 
“Earlier this month we agreed an additional action.
 
“All vehicles will have a new wax fuse resistor, a new blower motor and a new moulding at the base of the windscreen to address water ingress free of charge.
 
“We appreciate this is an inconvenience for customers and we apologise for that.”
 
‘Car fire put my children at risk’
 

MAZ Rayner said she had to haul her baby and toddler out of their seats as flames shot from her Zafira.
White smoke billowed out of the dashboard air vents as Maz, 27, carried daughter Summer, then three, and son Alfie, 16 months, to safety.
Husband Terry, 33, of Cromer, Norfolk, said: “This kind of deceit makes me feel furious.
“I contacted Vauxhall and was told my fire was a one-off.
“I would never buy a Vauxhall again.
“They put my family at risk.”
‘Driving it is like Russian roulette’
 
CASE STUDY 2

LISA Adams’ car had a recall check in December but burst into flames 11 weeks later on the school run.
Lisa, 50, said: “I was in total shock and very upset and I’m still shaky.
“You just don’t know if it’s going to happen to your car.
“It’s like Russian roulette.”
Husband Brian, of Worthing, Sussex, said: “Had we been in the vehicle when the fire started, we could have become trapped as it knocked out the central locking.”
 
‘I couldn’t breathe — it was so scary’
 
CASE STUDY 3
MICHELLE Marchant’s motor caught fire a month after the recall check.
Michelle, 33, said: “In a short stretch of road it went from no smoke to the car being filled with smoke.”
The Brighton mum added: “Flames came out of the passenger footwell.
“I could not breathe or see and within seconds it had gone up.
“Luckily I did not have the kids with me.
“It was so scary.
“We felt safe because it had had the recall but the fire could have killed us.”
 
6 years of shame
2010: First Zafira fires.
SEP 2014: Vauxhall reports issue to parent company GM.
NOV 5: Vauxhall MD Rory Harvey blames shoddy mechanics.
DEC 14: Full safety recall of all 235,000 UK Zafira B models.
JAN 2016: First fire in recalled car.
FEB 2016: The Sun commissions experts to examine the Zafiras.
APRIL/MAY 2016: They say fires caused by blower motor fault.
MAY 18: Vauxhall announces second recall of all 235,000 cars.