Two weeks ago, we told you about a massive recall of 780,000 GM cars prompted by an ignition defect that already had been blamed for 22 car crashes and six deaths. Now, another nine accidents and seven deaths reportedly have resulted from the problem, forcing an expansion of the recall to include more than 1,367,140 cars in North America. Even more troubling, auto accident and product liability attorneys say, is the automaker’s admission that it has known about the problem for more than a decade.
Faulty ignition switches installed in various GM models made between 2003 and 2007 can cause a car’s engine to shut off unexpectedly and disable the airbags. Heavy key rings and driving on rough roads or terrain can trigger the problem by moving the ignition switch out of position, causing all electrical components, including the mechanism responsible for deploying air bags, to immediately shut down.
The recall originally affected Cobalt and Pontiac G5s from the 2005 to 2007 model years sold in the US, Canada and Mexico. Now, company officials also are recalling Saturn Ions made between 2003 and 2007; and Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky cars made in the 2006 and 2007 model years.
“The chronology shows that the process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been,” Alan Batey, GM’s North American president, said in a written statement addressing the company’s waiting over a decade to publicly acknowledge the problem. “Today’s GM is committed to doing business differently and better. We will take an unflinching look at what happened and apply lessons learned here to improve going forward.”
GM says it will notify registered owners of recalled vehicles by mail and expedite repairs. If you belie that your vehicle is affected by the recall and you have not been involved in an accident cause by the faulty ignition, take your car to a licensed GM dealership where the company will replace the ignition switch free of charge. However, if you have suffered an injury while driving or riding in one of the recalled cars, get medical attention immediately. Then, call 800-251-1111 and speak to an auto accident or product liability attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.