Officials question whether recalled GM cars are safe to drive

Officials question whether recalled GM cars are safe to drive

In less than four months, General Motors (GM) recalled almost seven million vehicles; about the same number the automaker recalled throughout the past four years combined.

The bulk of the recalls come from a faulty ignition switch linked to popular compact car models, including the Chevy Cobalt, Saturn Ion and Pontiac G5. When an owner of a recalled vehicle inserts their key in the ignition, they run the risk of the spring that holds the key in place releasing due to improper size, shutting down their car.

For more than a decade, GM knew the spring, formally called a detent plunger, was too small, yet they failed to make any changes. The 57-cent increase in price kept the company from making an adjustment in design that ultimately led to at least 13 deaths and 33 accidents.

While the owners of the recalled vehicles wait for their ignition repairs, they’re encouraged to continue operating their vehicles, just without any additional keys or keychains attached to the one needed to start the car. Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive officer, told investigators in Washington, D.C., she’d let her teenage son drive a recalled vehicle with nothing on the key ring.

GM stands firm on the grounds that the vehicles are still safe to drive, but lawyers and senators are encouraging Barra to ground all vehicles associated with the issue. They claim even with only one key in the ignition, it can still be bumped or jostled into the “off” or “accessory” position because a lack of tension.

An attorney from Texas submitted an affidavit to Barra citing an incident where a female driver received the recall letter, removed the additional items and still experienced her car stalling in traffic. He and others claim this isn’t an isolated incident.

GM and Barra continually reiterate the “new” GM is focused on the customer, not costs, fueling their statements that they would discourage driving if they truly believed the vehicles to be unsafe; however past promises cause doubt in the public’s mind.

As the investigation into GM’s delay continues, many are beginning to label the automaker’s conduct as criminal. In 2006, an engineer approved a design modification in the detent plunger to create more tension but failed to change the part number and then denied he knew about the size increase when on trial.

If you or someone you love was a victim of GM’s negligence and deception, contact us today. We may be able to help.

Below is the list of recalled vehicles due to faulty ignition switch:

  • Chevrolet Cobalt, 2005 to 2010
  • Chevrolet HHR, 2006 to 2011
  • Saturn Ion, 2003 to 2007
  • Saturn Sky, 2007-2010
  • Pontiac Solstice, 2006 to 2010
  • Pontiac G5, 2007 to 2010
  • Pontiac Pursuit

Footnotes

Alcindor, Y. & Healey, J. R. (2014). Lawyers, senators try to ‘ground’ recalled GM cars. USA Today [Link]

Hirsch, J. & Puzzanghera, J. (2014). Senators accuse GM of coverup in delayed ignition-switch recall. LA Times. [Link]

Priddle, A. (2014). Lawyer: Using single key won’t eliminate GM ignition switch risk. Detroit Free Press. [Link]

Reuters. (2014). GM files 200,00 pages of documents about recall to safety agency. Fox Business. [Link]

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