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    GM Expands Ignition Switch Recall Amid A Climbing Death Toll


    • GM expands their already big recall concerning faulty ignition switches


    Two weeks ago, General Motors announced a massive recall that involves 778,562 Chevrolet Cobalts built between 2005 to 2007 and Pontiac G5s built in 2007 because of a faulty ignition switch that slip out of the run position if jostled or if any weight was applied to the key in the cylinder. Now this problem has caused 22 accidents and claimed the lives of six people since the air bags didn't deploy since the key was turned away from the run position. Now a GM spokesman pointed out at the time that the lack of air bags weren't the only factor in these fatalities; high speed, alcohol, not wearing a seat belt, and going off the road played a role in the six different fatalities.

    At that time, GM told owners to remove non-essential items from their key rings and get to their nearest dealer for a free replacement of the switch.

    Well today, GM has expanded the recall to an additional 588,000 vehicles bringing the total amount to over 1.6 million vehicles. The vehicles announced in this additional recall are,

    • 2003-07 Saturn Ion
    • 2006-07 Chevrolet HHR
    • 2006-07 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky

    Along with the addition of the vehicles to the recall, the number of crashes and fatalities has increased to 31 and 13 respectively.

    In a statement, General Motors says they have begun the process of letting owners owners of the affected vehicles know. But it will go further by reaching out to social media and its customer care centers.

    But this may be only the beginning of problems for GM. Last week USA Today got their hands on documents in a court case concerning the death of pediatric nurse Brooke Melton. In 2010, she got into a accident with her 2005 Cobalt, killing her. A dump of the vehicle's black box showed that before the crash, the key was not in the run position, thus turning off the vehicle and causing the vehicle to lose control. During the trial, a GM engineer said the problem appeared when testing the Cobalt before went on sale.

    This was confirmed by documents filed by GM to safety regulators yesterday. Engineers were able to replicate the problem and an inquiry was opened. However, no action was taken after lead time, cost and effectiveness of potential solutions were taken into account.

    The paperwork goes on to say that in 2005, GM started getting reports that Cobalts were losing power when a driver inadvertently hit the key or the steering column. The company issued a service bulletin telling dealers that the likely cause came down to a heavy or large key ring. Dealers were told to notify customers to remove non-essential items from the key ring. During the 2007 model year, GM transitioned to a new ignition switch.

    But it was a few years ago that GM started getting reports of accidents in Cobalts where the airbag didn't deploy. It was discovered that the key was turning into the accessory position.

    With this, GM has opened itself up to the potential of lawsuits.

    "The chronology shows that the process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been. Today's GM is committed to doing business differently and better. We will take an unflinching look at what happened and apply lessons learned here to improve going forward," said GM North America President Alan Batey.

    Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), USA Today, (2), General Motors

    Press Release and GM's Filing is on Page 2


    GM Expands Ignition Switch Recall

    • Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice, and Saturn Ion and Sky included
    • Company Launches Process Review

    DETROIT – General Motors is expanding the recall of certain 2003-2007 model year vehicles to correct a condition with the ignition switch that may allow the key to unintentionally move or switch to the "accessory" or "off" position, turning off the engine and most of the electrical components on the vehicle.

    In addition to 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5 and Pontiac Pursuit sold in Canada only, GM is separately recalling 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHRs, and 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky models. The affected U.S. vehicle population, including those vehicles recalled Feb. 13, totals 1,367,146.

    This expanded vehicle population raises the number of reported incidents involving frontal crashes, in which the recall condition may have caused or contributed to the non-deployment of the frontal airbags, to 31 involving 13 front-seat fatalities.

    As part of the recall, GM is taking steps to address customer concerns and working with its suppliers to increase parts production and accelerate availability.

    GM will notify all affected customers that in addition to recalling their vehicles and performing repairs at no charge to them, GM and its dealers will work with customers on an individual, case-by-case basis to minimize inconvenience associated with the recall.

    "Ensuring our customers' safety is our first order of business," said GM North America President Alan Batey. "We are deeply sorry and we are working to address this issue as quickly as we can."

    Going beyond required written notification, GM, through its customer care centers and social media teams, is using customer records and communications channels to notify affected customers of the recall and additional actions the company is willing to take to relieve their concerns and minimize inconvenience.

    GM is recalling these vehicles because the ignition switch torque performance may not meet GM specifications. If the torque performance is not to specification, and the key ring is carrying added weight or the vehicle goes off road or experiences some other jarring event, the ignition switch may inadvertently be moved out of the "run" position.

    The timing of the key movement out of the "run" position, relative to the activation of the sensing algorithm of the crash event, may result in the airbags not deploying, increasing the potential for occupant injury in certain kinds of crashes.

    Dealers will replace the ignition switch to prevent the unintentional or inadvertent key movement. Until this correction is performed, customers should use only the ignition key with nothing else on the key ring. As always, customers should drive responsibly and use their safety belts.

    On Monday, the company submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration a detailed chronology associated with its initial recall of the ignition switch torque performance condition in Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s and Pursuits. The chronology outlines events that happened during the time that elapsed between receiving the first field reports and issuing a recall.

    "The chronology shows that the process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been," said Batey. "Today's GM is committed to doing business differently and better. We will take an unflinching look at what happened and apply lessons learned here to improve going forward."

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    What is sad is they new about in testing phase, so that was probably 2003-2004 and they for sure knew of the problem in 2005, yet did nothing. This is why they have a bad reputation and people don't trust them. How about getting it right the first time, rather than doing what is cheapest or "good enough." GM always had these press releases that say we are committing to doing better or being world class, and the new GM is different from the old, but they have been saying that for 30 years. Actions would speak louder than words.

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    One PreGM Bankruptcy and the BEAN counters were in control, so the cost of lawsuits outweighed building the product right. Clear enough, GM is aggressively working to fix this.

    I feel for the people who died and the families who lost loved ones. I think GM would be wise to let people know if all the deaths were only due to this or if human error also truly played a part as they imply in the comment about alcohol and other issues.

    End game, GM is still way better than they used to be. Can they improve YES THEY CAN, I believe this is a good test case for them to show it by aggressively going after repairing this.

    I would still take one of these GM auto's over anything German or Asian built. Simple fix, replace the ignition switch.

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    This same thing happened in my 1997 Cavalier causing the steering wheel to lock in a turn but luckily I was able to get the car into neutral and get the car restarted before I crashed. I have a feeling that this recall will get bigger over time.

    I resolved the issue by switching to my spare key which was still crisp and sharp unlike the worn key that I was using.

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    I hate to sound insensitive, but I think there is a major driver problem when the driver can't cope with a stall, except to crash.

    There's a stall, which is easy to manage...

    ... and then there's an unexpected steering wheel lock while driving. At that point, stalling is the least of one's concerns.

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    I hate to sound insensitive, but I think there is a major driver problem when the driver can't cope with a stall, except to crash.

    There's a stall, which is easy to manage...

    ... and then there's an unexpected steering wheel lock while driving. At that point, stalling is the least of one's concerns.

    Show me a source that claims the steering wheel locked. I haven't seen it. This is about the key either being loose and the car "falling out" of run or the driver bumping the key and knocking the key out of 'run'... but in either case, turning the key from run to acc to lock is not easy to do by bumping it. All the articles I've seen only mention the car stalling, not locking the steering... and then the airbag not functioning on impact.

    Since I am all too familiar with a '98 Sunfire (and a bit less familiar with the recently acquired '97 CheapHoe (Tahoe), which has the same exact key and ignition), it would take quite a bit a bumping to get the ignition to fall out of run... and consider that the '97's ignition is loose enough I can start it with my mailbox key. Playing with these, it really would take an unusual operation to accidentally lock the steering. Of course, these are not the ignition in question. I am not familiar with the Cobalt/SSR/Kappa ignitions and keys.

    In any case, if I jerked my ignition key and the car stalled and locked the steering, I would be immediately turning the key to see if it unlocked it.

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    Too much weight on the key ring has been named as one cause. These people who have fifty pounds of unnecessary stuff attached to their car keys always induce an eye roll. The ignition switches on Cobalts, etc., that are involved are a unique design.

    The fact that it has come out that GM discovered the problem long ago and came up with an ineffective fix is damning, though.

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    GM will have to eat crow, do normal damage control and pay out money. Then hopefully they will not listen to a bunch of bean counters and lawyers who only have their own wealth in mind and actually listen to the engineers who design and create these auto's so that the next problem like this comes up and they actually fix the issue never allowing it to get to the field.

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    I hate to sound insensitive, but I think there is a major driver problem when the driver can't cope with a stall, except to crash.

    There's a stall, which is easy to manage...

    ... and then there's an unexpected steering wheel lock while driving. At that point, stalling is the least of one's concerns.

    Show me a source that claims the steering wheel locked. I haven't seen it. This is about the key either being loose and the car "falling out" of run or the driver bumping the key and knocking the key out of 'run'... but in either case, turning the key from run to acc to lock is not easy to do by bumping it. All the articles I've seen only mention the car stalling, not locking the steering... and then the airbag not functioning on impact. <snip>

    If the ignition switch moves out of "run" in any car -- which is exactly what's happening with these vehicles -- the steering wheel locks subsequently. You don't need a news report for that.

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    If the ignition switch moves out of "run" in any car -- which is exactly what's happening with these vehicles -- the steering wheel locks subsequently. You don't need a news report for that.

    Simply wrong.

    On modern cars, there are four positions... Lock, Accessory, Run and Start, in that order. (See page 2-16 and 2-17 in the 2005 Cobalt Owners Manual (http://www.vadengmpp.com/owners-manual/chevrolet/2005-Chevrolet-Cobalt.pdf). The steering only locks on Lock. Falling out of Run would place the ignition either in Accessory or (depending on the switch contacts) something of a cross between Accessory and Run... If the steering locks in Accessory, you need to have your car ignition fixed, as its not working to GM specs.

    Even on older cars, with an ignition order of Accessory, Lock, Run and Start, there is enough of a gap between Lock and Run that you can remove the car from Run and place it in the gap between Lock and Run, where its off, but the steering it not locked. I know this for a fact, as I've shut off and restarted many of my cars countless times without locking the steering while the car was rolling along at speed.

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    OK, I shall admit my mistake and defer to your experience on this one. :bowdown:

    I had my Bonneville stall out countless times -- even on freeways -- when the MAF sensor was dying out. So many times that, in fact, I became a pro at rolling starts myself. Not fun, but hey. The thing was, I could actually feel the car stall out each time it happened, and the ignition was still in On so I had full power otherwise.

    It's a bit different when the car turns its own key to Acc and you lose your power steering and brakes (by GM's own account, this happens). It may not be an actual steering lock, but it sure might feel like it when you don't see it coming...

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    The squishy folks of today that have no muscles at all probably think it locks up when it slips out of run due to the increased resistance. Just think how bad it would be if it was truly manual steering of the 70's or older auto's! Men and Woman of those days had to have some arm muscles to drive a car. :P

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    I agree that loosing power is disconcerting, but it is like any other hazard of driving... you have to be prepared for anything... be it a sudden stall, a huge pothole, or a car darting out of nowhere into your lane. Steering/brakes not working normally? You better adjust your plans RIGHT NOW. One can argue fault all they would like, but it does not bring one back from the dead... the only person on the road that is looking out for your life is yourself.

    Dfelt, I used to drive my '68 Catalina with no assist, as the pitman arm seal leaked like a sieve, so I removed the pump. Nothing like regularly parallel parking a power steering car with no power steering to build the muscles. Ugh.

    Normal manual steering cars fixed the issue by have an insane turning ratio and a huge wheel to give you better leverage... so parallel parking involved turning the wheel 50 times to the right followed by 100 times to the left and then 50 times to the left again.

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    I agree SAmadei, today many drivers are paying more attention to their smart phone than to their driving.

    Loss of life is always sad and regretful, but I wonder how many of the 6 deaths involved the driver not really paying attention to their driving due to being distracted with other things and when the slip happened they just let it go. Each and every human behind the wheel has an obligation to their driving and the people around them.

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    One PreGM Bankruptcy and the BEAN counters were in control, so the cost of lawsuits outweighed building the product right. Clear enough, GM is aggressively working to fix this.

    I feel for the people who died and the families who lost loved ones. I think GM would be wise to let people know if all the deaths were only due to this or if human error also truly played a part as they imply in the comment about alcohol and other issues.

    End game, GM is still way better than they used to be. Can they improve YES THEY CAN, I believe this is a good test case for them to show it by aggressively going after repairing this.

    I would still take one of these GM auto's over anything German or Asian built. Simple fix, replace the ignition switch.

    Question is now two fold...

    1) how are they going to handle this? Prove to me GM that this is not just talk.....I'm got a front row now with my Balt...

    2) Just how much damage is this going cause? Hate to see them have to give away Cruzes because of the s**tbalts.....

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    Loss of life is always sad and regretful, but I wonder how many of the 6 deaths involved the driver not really paying attention to their driving due to being

    Not 6 deaths... 13.

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