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General Motors Ignition Switch Recalls Escalate

The General Motors recall controversy continues as one of the largest car manufacturers in the United States issues yet another recall and faces a Congressional investigation. GM’s recall total now stands at a startling 4.8 million vehicles so far. The current recall, which began with roughly 800,000 vehicles back in February 2014, has now grown to include 2.6 million vehicles.

While, GM’s newly appointed CEO, Mary Barra, has confidently stated that the “new GM” is not like the “old GM”, and that the corporate values have been rewritten to banish the cost-focused company of the past, the facts uncovered during the Congressional hearings would indicated otherwise.

What is the GM recall all about?

The car’s ignition switch can be easily knocked into the “Off” or “Accessory” position, causing the vehicle to lose power. When a vehicle loses power, the power brakes and power steering can stop working, and the airbags can fail to deploy. While GM claims that the problem occurs when the car is being driven off-road or if the is car being a jarred, consumer complaints of the ignition switch problems included simple issues such as bumping the keys with your knee, tilting the steering wheel and even hitting a bumpy patch of road.

GM went on to assert that the fatalities“occurred off road and at high speeds, where the probability of serious or fatal injuries was high regardless of airbag deployment. In addition, failure to wear seat belts and alcohol use were factors in some of these cases.”

Which GM vehicles are involved in this recall?

All 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit (Canada), 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and 2007 Saturn Sky vehicles are involved in the recall. On March 28, 2014, the recall was expanded to include the following vehicles: 2008-2010 Pontiac Solstice and G5; 2008-2010 Saturn Sky; 2008-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt; 2008-2011 Chevrolet HHR.

How many people have been killed as a result of this defect?

While the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety has reported that there may be as many as 303 deaths linked to this issue, GM has acknowledged that only 13 deaths have been directly caused by their defect.

How long has GM known about this ignition switch defect?

The company told safety regulators that it had received reports of the ignition defect dating as far back as 2001. A congressional investigation into this GM recall has found that the automaker, along with federal safety regulators, missed multiple opportunities to fix the problem long before the series of fatal crashes occurred. GM has acknowledged that engineers first noticed the issue as early as 2001, but the proposed fix which would have cost GM 57 cents per switch, was rejected in 2005 due to the “tooling cost and piece price [being] too high”, as noted in the House report.

Why didn’t NHTSA request a recall earlier?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the agency responsible for investigating and requesting motor vehicle recalls. In order to validate a defect, NHTSA receives and evaluates consumer complaints and looks for common trends. While NHTSA did examine the available information from consumer complaints, early warning data, special crash investigations, and manufacturer information about how air bags should function, they “did not find sufficient evidence of a possible safety defect or defect trend that would warrant opening a formal investigation”, according to a statement from NHTSA’s acting administrator, David Friedman.

Since realizing that the GM initiated recall from February 7, 2014 took nearly10 years, NHTSA has opened an investigation to figure out what took General Motors so long to issue this recall.

How will I be notified if my car is being recalled?

The official recall notices will be sent to the address listed on your State Vehicle Registration.

How and when will my car be fixed?

GM made a change in the ignition switch device in 2007, and will be installing this new device into its older models that still have the defective switch. The updated ignition switches are being sent to GM dealers across the country, and they will begin making these repairs within the first few weeks of April. After receiving an official recall notice, you’ll need to call and schedule an appointment with your GM dealer to make this repair.

If you are an affected customer and have already paid for this repair, GM is including reimbursement request instructions in their official recall notice.

Are the recalled vehicles safe to drive?

GM is taking the stance that the vehicles are safe to drive, given that there are no additional attachments to the key ring. However, drivers will be putting themselves, and other drivers on the road, at risk if they continue to operate their recalled cars before they are fixed.

A Texas lawyer has requested that the federal courts require GM to issue a “Park it Now” alert, as these defective vehicles are a potential hazard to every motorist on the road.

GM is offering rental vehicles to drivers who do not feel comfortable using their defective vehicle prior to having the repairs done. If you own one of these recalled vehicles and would like to request a rental, contact your GM dealer.

If you have received an official notice describing a recall on a GM vehicle you own, follow the instructions to receive the remedy. If you’ve sustained an injury caused by defective motor vehicle equipment, the Denver car accident attorneys at The Bendinelli Law Firm have the understanding, knowledge and experience necessary for these complex cases. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation. With offices conveniently located in the Denver Metro area and Westminster, we’ll help you get the compensation you deserve.