GM expands ignition switch recall to 2.6 million cars

DETROIT Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:22pm EDT

The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky/Files

The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Jeff Kowalsky/Files

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co expanded its global recall of cars with defective ignition switches to 2.6 million on Friday, adding 971,000 later-model vehicles due to concerns over faulty replacement parts.

The recall now includes all model years of the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac G5 and Pontiac Solstice made from 2003-2011.

At least 12 deaths have been linked to the defect in the ignition, which when jostled or bumped can switch itself into "accessory" mode, even at highway speeds, shutting down the engine and disabling power steering, power brakes and airbags.

The expanded recall follows a Reuters report on Wednesday that it was still possible to purchase GM-brand ignition switches manufactured by Delphi Automotive carrying the same part number as the product at the center of the February recall.

GM redesigned the faulty part for model years after 2007, but it did not change the part number, and it fears that some newer-model cars could have been repaired with defective older-model switches.

Switches still available in parts stores may not be defective, but it is nearly impossible to tell new ones from older-design ones unless they are taken apart or the manufacturing history is checked, Reuters reported.

Even before the expansion, the recall had sparked investigations by Congress, federal regulators, the Department of Justice and GM itself. All are asking why it took GM so long to address an issue first noted by the company in 2001.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said on Friday that "we are taking no chances with safety" in replacing the ignition switches on all 2.6 million cars. Barra is due to testify next week before Congress, where she is likely to be grilled on why it took GM more than 10 years to implement the recall.

971,000 GLOBALLY

The expanded recall adds 971,000 cars globally, including 824,000 in the United States, GM said.

GM also is recalling all the replacement ignition switches that have been sent to U.S. aftermarket distributors, the spare parts market. About 95,000 faulty switches were sold to dealers and parts wholesalers, of which about 5,000 remain on shelves.

GM said Friday that no deaths or injuries have been linked to faulty ignition switches in the newer models that have been added to the recall. Older versions of those cars, dating from 2003-2007, were recalled in two tranches in February.

GM had said on Thursday that the replacement ignition switch it has ordered from Delphi to use in the earlier recall will bear a new part number that "eliminates any potential confusion about which part to use in the repair," according to a company spokesman.

GM said owners will be notified by mail the week of April 21 and can have ignition switches replaced for free at dealers "as parts become available" -- a process that is likely to take months because of the sheer number of vehicles involved.

GM also launched a website, www.gmignitionupdate.com, to provide consumers with information on the recall.

GM replaced the Cobalt in 2010 with a newer compact, the Cruze. On Friday, the automaker told U.S. dealers to stop selling certain 2013 and 2014 Cruze sedans equipped with 1.4-liter engines without saying why.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit, editing by Peter Henderson)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
Bfstk wrote:
It is sad that GM seems top have little or nothing from nearly going bankrupt. Saving it was a great victory at the time but the factors that nearly caused bankruptcy were not fixed. Shoddy quality and indiffernce to safety are 2 things that will wreck any corporation and GM has got it in spades. It isn’t clear they can survive this latest self-inflicted wound. One wonders what kind of people make there terrible business decisions. Are they just plain stupid? Are they crooked? Can they walk and chew gum at the same time? Stay tuned but don’t be surprised if GM finishes itself off. They certainly are unlikely to weather this latest gaff well. As for myself, I quit being a customer many years ago after receiving a letter from Roger Smith ignoring my complaints about my power assist breaks going out. When I brought the car in my mechanic told me the engine bolts were(gasp) missing and my engine was held down by well nothing. I shudder thinking about carrying around my kids in that death trap. Sayanara GM it wasn’t nice knowing you.

Mar 28, 2014 8:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.