DETROIT May 6 General Motors Co's
defective ignition switch that has been linked to at least 13
deaths also was the subject of an unrelated 2006 technical
service bulletin to U.S. dealers related to the inability of
some Saturn Ion owners to start their cars.
GM said in the August 2006 bulletin that Saturn dealers
should replace the ignition switch, which is now the subject of
a global recall, if owners of Ions from model years 2006 and
2007 complained about trouble starting their cars, according to
documents posted online by the U.S. National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration. GM described the problem in the bulletin
as "no crank, no start with complete power."
The bulletin is another indication of the problems with the
switch, which led to the recall this year not only of Saturn
Ions but also Chevrolet Cobalts and other models. GM this year
has recalled 2.6 million cars globally because the faulty part
can make vehicle engines stall while operating, stop air bags
from deploying, and prevent power steering and power brakes from
GM is under investigation by NHTSA, the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission, Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice
and a group of states for why it failed to catch the defective
part for over a decade.
GM spokesman Jim Cain said NHTSA had cast a broad net,
asking for any documents related to the defective part and its
history, and this bulletin was meant to help dealers handle an
unrelated issue that could keep the vehicle from starting.
"The specific reason the switches were recalled was because
of the torque force, basically the key was too easy to turn," he
said. "This bulletin deals with a completely separate issue,
which is an intermittent electrical connection. Yes, it involves
the same part, but it's an unrelated issue."
In the 2006 bulletin, GM said owners might also complain
that the vehicle may not start for at least 10 minutes or a
clicking noise may be noticed when the key was first turned to
the start position, according to the NHTSA documents.
GM said the no-start condition was caused by an
"inconsistent contact inside the ignition switch between the
printed circuit board and the contact finger." The automaker's
listed fix was to "replace the ignition switch."
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; editing by Matthew Lewis)