General Motors Recall Expands to 1.4 Million Vehicles for Faulty Ignition Switch By Tod Aronovitz | 03/10/14 | 0 Comment

In what started as a recall of 619,000 General Motors cars in the United States, has now expanded to include nearly 1.4 million vehicles to correct a defective ignition switch problem that may allow keys or key rings to unintentionally turn off the cars’ engines and electrical systems if accidentally bumped, disabling the airbags.

In an announcement on February 25, GM expanded its recall to include 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice, and 2007 Saturn Sky models. These latest vehicles are in addition to the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5’s, as well as the Pontiac Pursuit models sold in Canada only, that GM first recalled on February 13.

There have been 31 reported incidents involving frontal crashes, in which the ignition switch condition may have caused or contributed to the non-deployment of the frontal airbags, resulting in 13 front-seat fatalities, the automaker said.

GM is now tackling harsh questions by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as the agency launched an investigation to examine “the timeliness of GM’s recall” and “to determine whether GM properly followed the legal processes and requirements for reporting recalls,” according to an article in the Detroit Free Press on February 27.

Under federal rules, an automaker has 5 days from learning of a safety defect to report it to NHTSA. Automakers can be fined up to $35 million for violating that rule. Civil and criminal penalties are possible for GM as the agency’s investigation develops.

A CNN Money article on February 28 reported that GM engineers discovered the problem 10 years ago, but blunders throughout several of the automaker’s internal investigations hindered recall efforts until only recently. The article said that part of the problem stemmed from GM failing to record and update manufacturing records which showed that Delphi, the auto supplier who overhauled the switch in 2006, may have corrected the problem.

To address customer concerns, GM is working with its suppliers to increase parts production and accelerate availability. Dealers will begin getting replacement switches early in April. When supplies are adequate, GM will send a letter telling owners to make dealer appointments for free repairs. The company will follow up with reminders every three months for at least 18 months, the Free Press reported on March 4.

In the meantime, NHTSA and GM recommend that drivers of the recalled cars use only the ignition key with nothing else on the key ring when operating the vehicle.

On her March 4 corporate blog, GM CEO Mary T. Barra told employees that she had personally taken charge of the General Motors recall, leading a team of executives to direct the recall efforts, and ordering an internal investigation into why the company failed to act sooner, a New York Times article reported on March 4.

“We will hold ourselves accountable and improve our processes so our customers do not experience this again,” she said.

ARONOVITZ LAW: Representing Consumers in Product Liability Cases

The Miami product liability law firm of ARONOVITZ LAW pursues justice for citizens across Florida who have been injured by the wrongful actions or omissions of another individual, government agency, or corporation. We can assist you with civil litigation including consumer class action litigation, whistleblower cases, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death cases.

Contact Miami product liability attorney Tod Aronovitz for a confidential discussion of your case.