GM, a Fortune 500 Company, recently recalled more than 778,000 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 cars and is believed to have known about the problem since 2004, yet just issued the recall less than two weeks ago. Now, the company will more than double the size of the recall issued for the ignition switch defect adding in 2003-7 Saturn Ions, 2006-7 Chevrolet HHRs and 2006-7 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky models. That expansion brings the number of vehicles covered by the recall to nearly 1.4 million in the United States alone, more in Canada and Mexico.
According to a report posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, something as simple as a heavy key ring or a “jarring event” such as running off the road could cause the engine to shut off leading to loss of power steering and breaking assistance. And, in the event of a collision, it is possible that the air bags would not deploy. An engineer for the company experienced the problem while test-driving one of the vehicles in 2004 according to deposition transcripts provided to CNN Money. GM’s engineers concluded that there was a problem with the ignition switch in 2005.
GM had earlier tried to fix this problem without issuing recalls, and instead issued Technical Service Bulletins that instructed dealers to fix problems that are not deemed to be safety related. The fix involved putting an insert into the ignition switch, but is believed to have been unsuccessful.
Current law states that automakers are required to report safety defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration within five days of discovering them. Failure to do so can result in fines up to $35 million. Toyota and Ford have also been faced with paying large fines for not promptly reporting safety issues.
Thirty-one crashes and thirteen front-seat deaths have been linked to the problem with the recalled vehicles. In the fatalities, the air bags did not inflate, however according to GM, the engines did not shut off in all cases. It is unclear whether the ignition switches caused the crashes or whether the deaths were a result of the air bags not inflating.
Dealers will replace the ignition switch for free, but General Motors spokesman Alan Adler said that it will take some time for the parts to be manufactured and sent to the dealers. At this point, there is not a time frame for making those repairs.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU BUY A DEFECTIVE AUTOMOBILE…
If you discover a defect in a recently purchased car, or if a known defect leads to an auto accident that injures you or a loved one, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney car review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve. Call the experienced car accident attorneys at The Angell Law Firm today for a FREE phone consultation at (770) 217-4954.