An electrical defect involving the ignition switch of 1.6 million General Motors manufactured vehicles has been linked to at least thirteen wrongful deaths. This information has finally come to the attention of car owners, years after the company first realized its possible mistake.
General Motors announced this week the recall of 1.6 million vehicles sold in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The recall includes: the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, from the 2005-2007 model years; the Saturn Ion, from the 2003-2007 model years; and the Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky from the 2006-2007 model years. The problem, which GM says has been linked to thirteen deaths so far, involves the ignition switch, and can cause the vehicle’s engine to shut off and lose electrical power while going over rough roads or when heavy rings pull on the switch.
The recall will permit General Motors dealers to replace the ignition switches for free. However, the new parts will not be available for at least another month. In addition to the 13 wrongful deaths associated with the defect, GM says that a total of 31 car crashes have been linked to the defect. Because the electrical malfunction causes the car to lose power, air bags were not able to deploy in the fatal crashes.
GM first learned of the problem in 2004, and received a report of the first fatal accident in 2007. According to GM, they waited to reveal the defect because of bankruptcy and internal bureaucracy. Now, Congress is investigating the dangerous defect, with the option to fine GM as much as $35 million. On top of that, GM may face additional lawsuits from the families of the fatal crash victims.
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