If you have been following the news about General Motors, you already know that the motor giant is facing a daunting task: explaining to Congress why the company apparently delayed a recall for years that involved 1.6 million compact cars with a defect that claimed at least 13 lives.
Congressional members of two committees will soon grill GM executives on why the company failed to inform owners in a timely manner of the dangers associated with certain cars and why the manufacturer never implemented a proposed fix to the recall issue.
GM is recalling a total of 1.6 million vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico including:
- The Chevrolet Cobalt, 2005-2007 models
- The Pontiac G5, 2005-2007 models
- The Saturn Ion, 2003-2007 models
- The Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2007 models
- The Pontiac Solstice, 2006-2007 models
- The Saturn Sky, 2006-2007 models
These models have a peculiar defect in that jarring from rough roads or even a heavy key ring may pull the ignition switch out of the “run” position. If this happens, the engine may shut off and electrical power may be cut. This could result in a lack of power-assisted brakes and power steering and even airbag failure.
GM is now declaring that the company will replace the ignition switches for free. The company is in the process of preparing to notify owners when parts are available. However, in the meantime, the company is warning drivers not to put anything on the car’s ignition key ring but the ignition key itself.
So far, the problem has been connected to 31 total crashes resulting in 13 deaths from airbag failure. Between 2004 and 2007, GM learned of many accidents, at least one of them fatal, resulting from this problem. However, the company inexplicably failed to take action. At one point in 2005, a redesigned key head seemed to be in the works, but the company apparently cancelled that plan. Warranty records show that only 474 owners received an insert on the key head designed to fix the problem. Additionally, despite many reports of failure to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, no recall was ever ordered.
GM could be fined up to $35 million if a Congressional investigation finds that the automaker did not act with proper care to prevent accident and injury. However, that money will not necessarily reimburse those who have been injured in an accident involving one of these vehicles.
If you have been injured in an accident involving one of these cars, contact a personal injury attorney immediately.