It seems as though General Motors has been called on the carpet frequently during the past month regarding the ignition switch recalls experienced with some of their cars and light trucks. Initially GM announced a safety recall in February; five subsequent recalls have followed over the past four weeks affecting just over 4-million cars. The automaker, which anticipated spending $750-million in safety recalls for the first half of 2014, is now looking at spending approximately $1.3-billion before the problem is rectified.
The initial recall stemmed from a defect in the ignition switch of select GM models which allowed the switch to be cycled inadvertently from the “run” position to the “accessory” position with no warning. This would disable not only the engine but also the supplementary air bag system of the vehicle, thus resulting in a deadly situation for vehicle occupants. With 13-deaths already being contributed to this problem, the government launched a Congressional inquiry into the manner and urgency with which the recall was handled. If GM is found to have acted maliciously with deceptive behavior, they could be looking at fines and/or government charges for select individuals.
Last week General Motors announced that they had suspended two senior engineers, speculated to be Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman, with pay. DeGiorgio and Altman were in charge of ignition switch design oversight. DeGiorgio was accused of perjuring himself while testifying in a lawsuit related to a crash that was allegedly caused by the ignition switch defect by Claire McCaskill, a Democratic Senator from Missouri. Senator McCaskill expressed her outrage and disbelief that DeGiorgio had not already been fired from his position with GM.
The Chief Executive Officer for General Motors, Mary Barra, said, “This is an interim step as we seek the truth about what happened. It was a difficult decision, but I believe it is best for GM.”
The latest safety recall (GM#14113 & 14133) involves yet another sort of malfunction with GM ignition switches. It seems that the ignition key can be removed from the switch without placing the switch in the “Off” position. If the switch is not placed in the off position, the vehicle could be left unattended in an unsafe condition allowing it to roll inadvertently. In at least one instance a vehicle rolled away in a parking lot resulting in a crash with injuries.
The parts needed to repair this malfunction are making their way to General Motors dealerships across the nation now, but this recall is a major undertaking (approximately 2.2-million vehicles) and will take time to complete. Please follow these safety instructions.
If you own any of the following vehicles, please pay close attention:
- 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
- 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR
- 2007-2010 Pontiac G5
- 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice
- 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
- 2007-2010 Saturn Sky
If you own one of these vehicles and your ignition key can be removed from the ignition when it is not in the “Off” position, be very careful when exiting your vehicle to ensure that the automatic transmission shifter is placed firmly in the “Park” position and the emergency brake is actuated. If your vehicle is equipped with a manual transmission, then place the shift lever in the “Reverse” position and actuate the parking brake firmly prior to exiting the vehicle. Taking these precautions should ensure that your vehicle remains safely in place while unattended.
General Motors has stated that they will repair the vehicle at no charge, including replacement and/or reprogramming of any keys, if necessary. General Motors has indicated that affected vehicle owners will be notified by mail concerning repair arrangements, so be on the lookout for a letter.
If you feel that your vehicle is affected by this recall and you fail to receive a letter from General Motors, you may contact your manufacturer at the numbers listed below.
- Chevrolet owners 1-800-222-1020
- Pontiac owners 1-800-762-2737
- Saturn owners 1-800-553-6000
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Campaign number is 14V171000 and they can be reached at 1-888-327-4236 or visit www.safecar.gov for more information.
Regardless of whether or not you have already had the previous recall, concerning the ignition switch inadvertently shutting off, performed or not you will need to have this safety issue addressed. The ignition key should be locked in the cylinder until the cylinder is placed in the “Off” position. The “Off” position on your steering column acts as a safety mechanism for your vehicle’s powertrain. Until the shifter (on a vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission) is placed in the “park” position, the ignition cylinder should not rotate to the “Off” position allowing the key to be removed. This feature acts as a safety function that reminds drivers to place the shifter in “park” prior to exiting the vehicle.