Were you or your loved one in a car accident in which a defective ignition switch allowed the engine to shut off, or failed to deploy airbags? General Motors (GM) has recalled 1.6 million vehicles, including the Chevrolet Cobalt, after receiving 34 reports of crashes, including 12 deaths, related to a defective ignition switch. The company has also said it is “deeply sorry” for waiting a decade to issue a recall after first learning of the defect.
Chevy Cobalt Lawsuit Filed in New York
July 10, 2014 — General Motors (GM) has been hit with a lawsuit filed on behalf of a young man who died in a head-on collision with a school bus, according to WHEC Rochester. His family members allege that an ignition switch defect caused the incident, and GM knew about the defect but concealed it for years:
“Rather than disclosing this serious safety problem that uniformly affected all Cobalts, GM, instead, concealed and obscured the problems, electing to wait until customers brought their cars to a dealership after an engine-stalling incident, and offered even its own dealers only an incomplete, incorrect, and insufficient description of the defects and the manner in which to actually remedy them.”
GM Recalls 1.6 Million Vehicles for Ignition Switch Defect
In February 2014, General Motors (GM) issued a recall for 1.6 million vehicles with a defective ignition switch. The vehicles were sold in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
List of recalled vehicles:
- 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt
- 2007 Pontiac G5s
- 2005-2007 Pontiac Pursuit
- 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
- 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR
- 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice
- 2006-2007 Saturn Sky
What is the problem?
The ignition switch has a weak plunger and spring. When drivers use a heavy key ring or drive over rough roads, the key can potentially move into the “accessory” or “off” position, shutting off the engine, electrical components, steering, brakes, and air bags.
12 Deaths, 34 Crashes Linked to Defect
GM received the first report of an accident related to the ignition switch defect in 2001. In 2005, the first death was reported — a 16 year-old girl in Maryland. However, it was not until February 2014 that GM announced the recall. By that time, there were 34 crashes and 12 deaths related to the defective ignition switch and/or airbags that failed to deploy. Click here to read more.
GM Knew About the Problem for 10 Years
After the recall, GM submitted a timeline of events (.PDF) to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The documents show that engineers reported that the ignition was not made to specification in 2001. In 2004 — a decade before issuing a recall — GM received the first report of a Chevy Cobalt engine shutting off due to the ignition switch. Engineers reproduced the event in testing, and a recall was approved, but GM backtracked, citing cost as a factor in their decision.
Over the next few years, GM continued receiving reports of accidents. In 2005, engineers suggested recalling the vehicles to place a simple plastic insert into the ignition switch that would prevent the problem. The inserts were fitted on just 474 vehicles. Instead of issuing a recall, GM sent a Service Bulletin to dealerships.
By the end of 2007, GM had reports of 10 accidents involving front-end crashes where the airbags failed to deploy. GM stopped making the Chevrolet Cobalt in 2010, but didn’t issue a recall. Instead, they continued studying the problem. Unfortunately, investigations in 2011, 2012, and 2013 “produced inconclusive results.”
It was not until April 2013 that an engineering firm determined that the torque required to move the ignition switch on a 2005 Chevy Cobalt “differed substantially” from vehicles manufactured after 2010. They also concluded that the supplier of the ignition switch changed a plunger and spring without notifying GM, which resulted in a component that failed to meet specifications.