By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT (WWJ) – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is going to investigate GM’s handling of its recall of 1.6 million older small cars that have defects with their ignition switches.

“We deeply regret the events that led to the recall and this investigation,” read a statement issued by General Motors. “As our detailed chronology indicates, we intend to fully cooperate with NHTSA and we welcome the opportunity to help the agency have a full understanding of the facts. Today’s GM is committed to learning from the past while embracing the highest standards now and in the future.”

There have been 13 deaths linked to the problem. Heavy key chains can lead move the ignition switch and turn the engines off.

The recall, which was expanded earlier this week, includes 05-07 Chevrolet Cobalts, 03-07 Saturn Ions, 07 Pontiac G5’s, 06-07 Chevy HHR’s, 07 Saturn Skys, and 06-07 Pontiac Solstices.

The first complaints of the problem started arising in 2007. AutoPacific Analyst Dave Sullivan says that timing is likely to be the focus of the investigation.

“These cars are almost a decade old. Why couldn’t GM come up with a fix years ago?”

Sullivan, however says any harm to GM’s reputation is likely to be short-term.

“You look at the Firestone tires from Ford, the accelerator pedal issues from Toyota, there’s no doubt in my mind that long term there’s really not much damage here.”

Dealers are waiting for word from GM about the timing for the repairs. A statement from GM says that will be coming soon.

“We expect the first parts to be available in early April,” said the statement. “Owners will receive a letter from GM the week of March 10 informing them of the recall and reminding them to use only the ignition key (no key fob or other material) until the recall repair is completed. Customers will get a second letter informing them when they can contact dealers for repair appointments.”

General Motors could face fines of up to $35 million, which would be a new record. AutoPacific’s Dave Sullivan says Toyota’s unintended acceleration issues back in 2010 changed the way everybody deals with recalls.

“Everybody’s on edge…As a result, I think we’ve seen recalls coming fast and furious.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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