DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – General Motors is recalling 824,000 more small cars; ignition switches could be faulty.
General Motors Friday said it will replace the ignition switch in all model years of its Chevrolet Cobalt, HHR, Pontiac G5, Solstice and Saturn Ion and Sky in the U.S. since faulty switches may have been used to repair the vehicles.
The parts are at the center of the company’s recently announced ignition switch recall, which originally extended through the 2007 model year. About 95,000 faulty switches were sold to dealers and aftermarket wholesalers. Of those, about 90,000 were used to repair older vehicles that were repaired before they were recalled in February.
Because it is not feasible to track down all the parts, the company is taking the extraordinary step of recalling 824,000 more vehicles in the U.S. to ensure that every car has a current ignition switch. GM is unaware of any reports of fatalities with this group of vehicles where a frontal impact occurred, the front air bags did not deploy and the ignition is in the “accessory” or “off” position.
As with the earlier recalls, if the torque performance is not to GM specification, the ignition switch may unintentionally move from the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” positions, leading to a loss of power. The risk may be increased if the key ring is carrying added weight or if the vehicle goes off road or experiences some jarring event. The timing of the key movement out of the “run” position relative to when the sensing algorithm of a crash may result in the air bags not deploying, increasing the potential for occupant injury in certain kinds of crashes.
Until the recall has been performed, customers are urged to remove all items, including the key fob, from their key rings, leaving only the vehicle key.
“We are taking no chances with safety,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “Trying to locate several thousand switches in a population of 2.2 million vehicles and distributed to thousands of retailers isn’t practical. Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling the rest of the model years.
“We are going to provide our customers with the peace of mind they deserve and expect by getting the new switches into all the vehicles,” Barra said.
GM records indicate the service parts may have been used for ignition repairs in:
■2008-2010 Chevrolet Cobalts
■2008-2011 Chevrolet HHRs
■2008-2010 Pontiac Solstice
■2008-2010 Pontiac G5 and
■2008-2010 Saturn Sky
Owners who may have had a suspect part installed will receive a letter the week of April 21. GM dealers will replace their ignition switch free of charge as parts become available. Customers who paid to have their ignition switches replaced will be eligible for reimbursement.
Dealers, distributors and other parts customers will be told about the recall beginning March 31.
Information on the ignition switch recall is available www.gmignitionupdate.com.
In February, GM recalled almost 780,000 older-model compact cars in North America because a faulty ignition switch can shut off the engines without warning and cause crashes. The company says the weight of heavy key rings combined with bumpy roads can move the ignition to the off position.
“It is very serious, very unusual, too,” said WWJ Analyst John McElroy. “I’ve never heard of a problem like this before.”
General Motors says there have been 22 crashes, mostly at high speed, with six fatalities. The problem is compounded because when the vehicle is turned off, the airbags don’t deploy.
“It’s very often simple things that cause problems in cars like this,” said Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer.
In the 2010 sudden acceleration recall of Toyota vehicles, an extensive investigation showed no problems with the vehicles high tech electronics, with that particular problem caused by pedals becoming trapped under floor mats.