U.S. judge refrains from making GM 'park' recalled cars

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas Fri Apr 4, 2014 6:14pm EDT

Surviving family member Leo Ruddy (L) holds a photo of his deceased daughter Kelly as his wife Mary Theresa holds up photos of Kelly's wrecked 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, before the start of the Senate Commerce and Transportation Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance subcommittee in Washington April 2, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Surviving family member Leo Ruddy (L) holds a photo of his deceased daughter Kelly as his wife Mary Theresa holds up photos of Kelly's wrecked 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, before the start of the Senate Commerce and Transportation Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance subcommittee in Washington April 2, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge refrained on Friday from issuing an emergency order that would have parked millions of General Motors Co cars recalled for defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths.

District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos at a hearing in Corpus Christi, Texas, said she would need more time to study briefs submitted by attorneys for two owners of a recalled GM car and receive documents from the carmaker's lawyers.

A ruling on the requested "stop drive order" is expected in the coming days.

Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million cars equipped with the switch. So far this year, GM has recalled a total of nearly 7 million vehicles, or about the same number recalled in the previous four years combined.

Without warning, the switches can make vehicle engines stall while operating, stop air bags from deploying, and impede power steering and power brakes from operating.

This week, the automaker's Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra was grilled by two congressional committees and the company showed signs it would create a compensation fund for victims similar to a fund created by BP Plc for those affected by a 2010 oil spill.

GM has said it would take a charge of $750 million in the first quarter, mostly for the recalls announced in that period, including ones linked to the defective ignition switch.

In Friday's hearing, the judge was asked by attorneys for GM vehicle owners or their survivors to order all models under recall off the road until they can be fixed.

GM had told the judge through documents filed before the hearing that it was safe to operate the vehicles as long as nothing was attached to the key while it was in the ignition.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba; Editing by Terry Wade and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (2)
Dr_Steve wrote:
Pray, how would such an order be enforceable?

Apr 04, 2014 10:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
elroyjetsn wrote:
The real problem with these GM ignition switchs isn’t that they are dangerous, is that they are not much different from those used by most of the other automakers. The problem isn’t the switch, it’s the fact that the switch is placed on the steering column only inches from the driver’s knee. This is where the ignition switch is located in most cars on the road including Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Infinity, etc. and GM. Nearly all of these produce and have produced cars that can and DO stall when the key is bumped by the knee. Some more easily that others.

The 1995 Cherokee was notorious for knee bump stalls. Fortunately, most adult drivers know to turn the switch back to the on position before there is an accident. 2014 Kia Sole is also prone to knee-stalls. Has little if nothing to do with the switch itself, it’s where the switch is placed and most automakers follow the same practice as GM.

If you want to see a really dangerous ignition switch, check the 1999 Honda Minivans. They would spontaneously short causing the electrical system to shut down, the engine to stall and with no way to restart at all!

Look at the complaints at the AboutAutomobile site and some others that have logged these customer complaints about knee bump stalls for other makes, like Lincolns that move the drivers seat back when the key is bumped by the driver’s knee so that the driver has no way to work the brakes and so on.

Point is the REAL problem is industry wide- the steering column ignition switch LOCATION.

Apr 04, 2014 10:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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