• The headlights on more than 725,000 2010–2017 GMC Terrain SUVs are apparently too bright, although to date there's no evidence anybody has reported safety issues as a result.
  • In 2019, GM asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to dismiss the problem because, aside from the lack of crashes, only one customer had even asked about the situation.
  • Even so, since these headlights are measurably too bright in some instances, NHTSA denied GM’s request this week, putting the ball in GM’s court to figure out how to resolve the situation.

    General Motors will need to recall more than 725,000 GMC Terrains to fix a problem with the SUVs' headlights. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been collecting information on GMC Terrains from the 2010 through 2017 model years and claims that the headlights can create “glare to other motorists driving in proximity” in certain weather conditions, including snow and fog.

    In a Denial of Petition document posted to the Federal Register Thursday, NHTSA said the headlights in the affected Terrains are simply too bright from some vantage points. Specifically, reflection from the headlamps’ housing illuminates two small areas high above the vehicle that, when measured according to federal motor vehicle safety standards, return a result of approximately 450 to 470 candela. That's more than three times as bright as is allowed at these measurement points, NHTSA said.

    2013 gmc terrain denali

    2013 GMC Terrain Denali.

    In 2019, the automaker asked NHTSA to consider an exemption for the Terrain headlight issue because the "reflection has no effect on vehicle safety for oncoming or surrounding vehicles." It also said that the headlight supplier, Stanley, redesigned replacement headlamps with graining on the surfaces that inadvertently reflected the too-bright light, "which will prevent the reflections that are the cause of the issue." GM also said that it had heard of "only a single customer inquiry associated with this condition and is not aware of any crashes or injuries," with that one customer complaining that the "left headlamp seems to have a portion of the light that shines up in the trees at near a 45-degree angle." That's the extent of it.

    Still, NHTSA denied GM's request Friday, and the decision now forces GM to recall the vehicles and fix the headlights at no cost to vehicle owners. NHTSA said that approximately 726,959 Terrains manufactured between May 21, 2009, and July 13, 2017, are potentially involved in this recall.

    GM told Reuters that some Terrains have gotten replacement headlight parts that do not cause the same sort of glare and that the problem was fixed for 2018 and later model year Terrains. The automaker said it will now "review NHTSA's decision and explore potential next steps," Reuters reported.

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