DETROIT — General Motors is recalling another 3 million cars because of a defect that causes a similar problem to one that led to an earlier massive recall of small cars, and is linked to 13 deaths.
The ignition switches in Chevrolet Impalas, Cadillac de Villes and five other models can slip out of the “run” position if the keychain has too much weight on it and the car is jarred, for example, by hitting a pothole. To fix the problem, GM will revise or replace the key.
Similar to the 2.6 million small cars GM began recalling in February, drivers of the newly recalled models could experience an engine stall, loss of power-assisted steering and brakes, and the air bags may not inflate in a crash. GM says the latest recall involves six injuries and no deaths, and is related to the design of the key. A mechanical defect in the switch is at the heart of the other recall.
GM is in the midst of a companywide safety review, and has now issued 44 recalls this year covering more than 20 million vehicles — nearly 18 million the U.S. The latest recall is likely to spark more questions about GM’s commitment to safety when CEO Mary Barra testifies for the second time before a House panel investigating why it took GM 11 years to recall the small cars.
Barra endured some harsh questions in April, but refused to answer most pending the release of an internal investigation. GM released those results on June 5, blaming a dysfunctional corporate structure and poor decisions by some employees for the crisis. The company also announced plans to establish a fund to compensate the families of those who died, plus those injured in more than 50 crashes.
“This latest recall raises even more questions about just how pervasive safety problems are at GM,” said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, whose oversight panel is investigating GM’s handling of the ignition switch defect.
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Lack of part delays repairs
DETROIT — More than four months after General Motors began recalling 2.6 million small cars to fix ignition switches, the company has repaired only 7 percent of the vehicles.
Through Thursday, GM had repaired almost 177,000 of the cars and shipped about 423,000 parts kits to dealers worldwide.
GM says the repairs have been delayed as Delphi Corp., the switch maker, ramps up production of a part for cars that the company is no longer making.
Initially Delphi had only one assembly line building replacement switches, which slowed parts distribution. Now the company has two lines running, and GM expects a third to be operational in late July or early August, spokesman Kevin Kelly said Monday.
In addition, a separate ignition lock cylinder recall affects the same vehicles. GM suppliers have had to make both parts, then the company ships them to dealers in a single repair kit.
GM has offered free loaner cars to those afraid to drive their own vehicles. So far it has paid for almost 67,000.
GM began recalling the cars, mainly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions from the 2004 through 2010 model years, in February. The ignition switches can unexpectedly slip from the “run” to “accessory” position, shutting off the engine. That shuts off the power steering and power brakes, making cars harder to control. It also disables the air bags, which won’t inflate in a crash.
GM says the problem has caused at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths, but trial lawyers say the death toll is more than 60. GM has acknowledged knowing about the problem for more than a decade, yet the cars weren’t recalled until this year.