General Motors is conducting a safety recall of certain 2012 and 2013 model year Buick LaCrosse, Regal and 2013 Chevrolet Malibu hybrids for a potential defect that may result in a fire.

A notice on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website puts the number of vehicles potentially affected by the recall at 42,904. Vehicles affected are those equipped with the mild hybrid system known as eAssist.

Documentation from GM (PDF) submitted to the NHTSA identifies the vehicle recall population as follows:

The problem

The NHTSA bulletin and GM documentation indicate that the subject vehicles may have a condition where the Generator Control Module (GCM) fails to function properly.

As a result of this condition, there could be a gradual loss of battery charge and the illumination of the malfunction indicator light.

According to GM, should the warnings be ignored, “eventually the engine may stall, and/or the vehicle may not start.” GM further cautions that, in addition, “there may be a burning or melting odor, smoke, and possibly a fire in the trunk.”

The automaker said that two trunk fires have been reported, including one in the trunk of a vehicle at a dealership.

As reported in The Detroit News, GM spokesman Alan Adler said that the issue is not related to the battery in the hybrid systems.

What GM will do

GM will notify owners and dealers will inspect the GCM, replacing it as necessary. The service will be performed at no charge.

GM has not yet provided an owner notification schedule for the safety recall campaign, identified as No. 13136. In the meantime, owners of 2012 and 2013 Buick LaCrosse and Buick Regal with eAssist and 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco vehicles with any questions or concerns may contact GM at 1-800-521-7300.

(c) 2013, High Gear Media.