Harbor Freight recalling nearly 3.5 million mislabeled automotive fuses
Camarillo-based importer and retailer Harbor Freight Tools plans to recall up to 295,000 Chinese-made automotive fuse sets sold over the past two years that could be linked to electrical fires.
The firm, known for low-priced and mainly imported tools and equipment, told the National Highway Traffic Administration last month that the decision for the recall comes following a number of customer complaints and questions received from General Motors.
The NHTSA has also received several complaints regarding the products, which are suspected of being mislabeled with incorrect amperage ratings. The incorrect ratings could lead to wiring damage or fire in vehicles using the fuses. No fires have been reported, but cases of heat damage to automobile fuse boxes, typically under a vehicle's passenger compartment dashboard, have been reported.
Harbor Freight stopped carrying the 120-piece fuse sets earlier last month, but had not publicly revealed the suspected problems. While the number was limited to those sets sold from August 2005 to August 2007, the large number of fuses in each set means the recall could affect 3.5 million individual fuses. The color-coded parts have no serial or date numbers and may be difficult to identify, especially if placed in the car by a mechanic and not the vehicle owner. GM warned its dealers in an earlier memo not to use the Harbor Freight parts instead of GM-authorized fuses.
Harbor Freight said it will be contacting customers that purchased the fuses sets through the firm's Web site or through mail. Notices will be placed at all of the firm's retail outlets. Customers will be offered a refund of the original $3 to $10 sets as well as a $5 gift certificate.
This is the second major automotive parts recall in the past several months involving Chinese-made products. In July, New Jersey-based importer Foreign Tire Sales announced a recall of 255,000 Chinese-made tires due to safety deficiencies in the tires.