The recall affects several pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, crossovers and passenger car models from the 2006 to 2009 model years. GM conducted a similar recall in 2008 but came across new reports of fires in vehicles that had been fixed.
GM said it would disable the heated washer fluid system module that could lead to fires. The Detroit automaker will pay owners and those leasing vehicles $100 each since the feature is being disabled.
GM said it was aware of five fires but there had been no injuries or crashes reported. Nearly 1.4 million vehicles are in the U.S. and more than 100,000 vehicles are in Canada, Mexico and other international markets.
"While our analysis shows the number of incidents is very small compared with the number of vehicles on the road, we want our customers to have complete peace of mind," said Jeff Boyer, GM's executive director of safety.
The recall covers the 2006-2009 model year Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, and Hummer H2; 2008-2009 Buick Enclave and Cadillac CTS; 2007-2009 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT; 2007-2009 Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban and Tahoe; 2007-2009 GMC Acadia, Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL; 2007-2009 Saturn Outlook; and 2009 Chevrolet Traverse.
The auto company said customers will begin to receive recall letters later this month but can contact their dealer to make an appointment to have the heated washer system removed. Dealers will remove the heated washer fluid module and reroute washer fluid hoses.
GM said the technology was available from only one supplier, Microheat Inc., of Farmington Hills, Mich., which went out of business, preventing GM from working with another supplier on an improved design.
GM recalled more than 900,000 vehicles because of the heated washer fluid system in August 2008 because a short circuit on the circuit board could overheat the ground wire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had opened an investigation in February 2008 into 2007 Yukon and Tahoe vehicles over potential engine compartment fires.
The government closed its investigation after the 2008 recall but GM later came across fires in vehicles that had been fixed under the previous recall, prompting the latest safety action.
Owners can contact Buick at (866) 608-8080, Cadillac at (866) 982-2339, Chevrolet at (800) 630-2438, Saturn at (800) 972-8876, GMC at (866) 996-9463 and Hummer at (800) 732-5493.