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Recalls raise questions about ignition switches

A recent spate of automobile recalls by GM and Chrysler have raised questions about whether the problem is more widespread.
By DEE-ANN DURBIN and TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writers Published: July 1, 2014
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Q&A

Recent recalls raise questions about auto ignition switches

Q. There have been a lot of recalls lately for ignition switch problems. What’s wrong?

A. In all of the recalled vehicles, the ignition switch can slip out of the “run” position and into the “accessory” or “off” position. It happens for different reasons. In some GM cars, the switch didn’t meet specifications and was too loose. In others, the switch meets specifications but jarring — from the road or even the driver’s knee — or weight on the key chain can tug the ignition switch out of position. In any case, the outcome is the same. If the car is in “accessory” or “off,” the engine will stall, power steering and power brakes won’t work and the air bags won’t deploy in the event of a crash.

Q. What should I do if the key slips out of the “run” position while I’m driving?

A. Look for the safest way off the road. That usually means heading for the right shoulder. Don’t press the brakes too quickly; let the car’s momentum help you navigate through high-speed traffic. Flick on the turn signal or emergency flashers to alert other vehicles. The steering will still work, but it will be harder to use. You will also need to push harder on the brakes.

Q. I drive one of the recalled cars, but the dealer doesn’t have enough parts to repair it right away. What should I do?

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