GM recalls 1.6 million cars after 12 deaths link to faulty ignition switch

GM recalls 1.6 million cars after 12 deaths link to faulty ignition switch

General Motors (GM) is recalling more than one million vehicles after a problem linked to at least 31 accidents and 12 deaths was identified. A defect in several models’ ignition switches causes the slightest jostle to move the key and shut the car off while in motion. This leads to other serious issues, including airbags failing to deploy upon impact.

The first known reports trace back to 2001 when GM tested the Saturn Ions, but production continued after they believed the problem was corrected. In 2004, the issue resurfaced with an inexpensive partial solution that GM decided not to implement, which simply involved redesigning the keys to create a smaller area to hang keychains, thus eliminating some of the weight and removing a portion of the risk. Instead, the company created inserts for dealerships to give to customers owning the affected cars if they came with a complaint.

During the past decade, more than 250 complaints about the ignition switch occurred, yet it was still not viewed as a safety issue. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn’t initially believe enough evidence existed to complete a formal investigation. In that time, multiple families took action against GM and sued for the loss of their loved ones due to mechanical errors in the vehicles.

Experts believe the issue lies within the ignition switch controller with a device called the detent plunger. The spring included doesn’t offer enough tension to properly hold the key in place, allowing it to move into a different, more dangerous position. By lengthening the switch detent plunger, stronger resistance is created and the key can no longer move freely. A matter of millimeters is the difference between arriving safely and experiencing a preventable accident.

For some families, the information surfacing is the solution to the tragic loss of their loved ones in the past decade from a vehicular accident. A safety watchdog group is reporting 303 deaths caused by failed airbags connected to the 1.6 million GM cars recalled. At this point, the NHTSA is launching an investigation into the chronology of the defects and all those affected by the problem. Additionally, Congress, The Justice Department and The Transportation Department, among others, plan to complete their own research.

Vehicles included in the recall:

  • Chevrolet Cobalt, 2005 to 2007
  • Chevrolet HHR, 2006 to 2007
  • Saturn Ion, 2003 to 2007
  • Saturn Sky, 2007
  • Pontiac Solstice, 2006 to 2007
  • Pontiac G5
  • Pontiac Pursuit

If you or a loved were involved in an accident in one of these cars, please contact us immediately with your concerns. Now is the time to receive justice for an accident that could have been prevented.


The Associated Press, CNBC, The Detroit Bureau and Reuters. (2014). Six things you need to know about the General Motors recall. NBC News. [Link]
Gardella, R., Gutierrez, G., Monahan, K. & Reynolds, T. (2014). GM chose not to implement a fix for ignition problem. NBC News. [Link]
Ivory, D. (2014). GM reveals it was told if ignition defect in ’01. The New York Times. [Link]
Levin, D. (2014). 10 things you need to know about the massive GM recall. Time. [Link]
Lienert, P. (2014). U.S. safety watchdog says 303 deaths linked to recalled GM cars. Reuters. [Link]
NBC News. (2014). NHTSA to launch ‘aggressive investigation’ into GM recall. NBC News. [Link]
Young, A. (2014).  GM recall 2014: Pictures of the tiny ignition switch part that could cost general motors dearly [PHOTOS]. International Business Times. [Link]

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