This GMC Terrain recall over a headlight issue has gone from fascinating to absurd. It started when GMC discovered the headlights on the 2010-2017 Terrain were out of compliance with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). A pinpoint of low-beam light was being reflected off the high-beam reflector. This bounced a tiny sliver of bright light up into the trees and the sky beside the road, not into oncoming traffic. GMC did the right thing, reporting the noncompliance to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Because the sliver of light was coming from the low beams and was four times brighter than the maximum allowable low beam brightness, the NHTSA told GMC to recall 740,581 units of the SUV. GMC asked for an exemption, admitting the bright spot could cause glare while noting the errant beam didn’t affect other road users. The automaker hadn’t received any complaints, only a comment from one owner saying the lights put a bright spot in the trees on the other side of the road. The NHTSA denied the request. GMC began notifying owners in April that they’d need to come in for a fix once a fix had been developed. That’s the fascinating part.
The absurd part, which Tire Meets Road uncovered, is that the fix is a “Headlamp Applique Kit.” Which is a piece of frosted tape applied to the outside of the headlight that lets low-beam light through and tamps down any potential glare from the caroming beam. Notice that the parallelogram of frosted tape matches the L-shaped frosted area along the inside of the headlight housing. That portion was already a feature of the lamp, as can be seen in our 2016 Terrain Denali Quick Spin.
The repair needs a trip to the dealer for a tech to place a positioning template over the headlight and put the applique kit in the proper spot. GM’s instruction kit says the whole thing should take 0.2 of an hour, or 12 minutes—about the time it it would take to get checked into and out of the dealership service department.
Owners aren’t impressed, some calling the fix unnecessary and ridiculous, and the tape should make it clear that GMC feels the same way. Some owners have said they’re going to skip the recall. Those drivers will find that just as GMC couldn’t escape the legal ramifications, neither can they. Local motor vehicle bureaus keep track of recall compliance. If a Terrain owner without “repaired” headlights gets in an accident and a preponderance of blame can be placed on glare from the low-beam headlights, the owner can be held liable. So go get your stickers and a free cup of service lobby coffee.