General Motors (GM), the largest automaker in the United States, has recalled over five million automobiles due to a defective ignition switch. The defect causes the car to switch to “accessory” mode which shuts down the engine and causes the vehicle to lose power, even while driving. The auto defect has been linked to serious accidents and several deaths. Investigations have discovered that GM has known about the problem since at least 2003 but waited years to issue recalls. At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing this week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra admitted she didn’t know why the largest U.S. automaker delayed in recalling faulty ignition switches in millions of vehicles.
If you or someone close to you has been injured due to what you believe is a faulty ignition switch or other auto defect, the Philadelphia attorneys at Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., are here to protect your rights. We have extensive experience handling auto defect and crashworthiness cases for clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and nationwide.
Vehicles Named in the Recalls
- 2005-2009 Buick Lacrosse
- 2006-2011 Buick Lucerne
- 2004-2005 Buick Regal LS & GS
- 2003-2014 Cadillac CTS
- 2000-2005 Cadillac Deville
- 2004-2011 Cadillac DTS
- 2004-2006 Cadillac SRX
- 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt
- 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR
- 2000-2014 Chevrolet Impala
- 1997-2005 Chevrolet Mailbu
- 2000-2008 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
- 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero
- 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue
- 2007 Pontiac G5
- 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am
- 2004-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix
- 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice
- 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
- 2006-2007 Saturn Sky
Loss of Power While Driving
Independent and internal investigations into the recalled vehicles have found that something as simple as a heavy key chain or a rough road can cause the vehicle to lose all engine and electrical power. While the ignition is in this “accessory” setting the driver’s ability to control the vehicle is severely impacted as they lose all access to power steering and power brakes. Furthermore, the investigations have revealed that the defective ignition switch can also prevent the air bags from deploying in case of a crash.
General Motors Delays Recalls
Engineers at GM have known about this problem since at least 2005 when an engineer experienced the defect while test driving a Chevrolet Cobalt. Instead of issuing a recall, GM sent out “Technical Service Bulletins” to dealers with instructions to fix the vehicle. “Technical Service Bulletins” are sent out when an automaker deems the auto defect not to be a serious safety issue. GM has publicly acknowledged that over 30 accidents have occurred and over a dozen people have been killed as a result of this defect.
Additional General Motors Recalls
In addition to the faulty ignition switches, General Motors has recalled another 1.3 million vehicles that may experience a sudden loss of electric power steering assist which can lead to issues with side airbag deployment and possible engine fires.
Vehicles Implicated in the Additional Recalls
- 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 & 2009 Chevrolet Malibus
- 2004-2006 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx
- 2009-2010 Chevrolet HHR
- 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
- 2008-2009 Saturn Aura
- 2004-2007 Saturn ION
- 2005, 2006, 2008, & 2009 Pontiac G6
The latest recalls cover a range of vehicles and model years, as follows:
- 2009-10 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia full-size crossovers and Saturn Outlooks. According to GM, “front safety lap belt cables can fatigue and separate over time. In a crash, a separated cable could increase the risk of injury to front seat passengers.”
- 2004-08 Chevrolet Malibu and 2005-08 Pontiac G6. GM says that “a shift cable that could wear out over time, resulting in mismatches of the gear position indicated by the shift lever.”
- 2015 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESVs. GM said that an “insufficiently heated plastic weld that attaches the passenger side air bag to the instrument panel assembly could result in a partial deployment of the air bag in the event of a crash.”
- GM is also recalling several dozen Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HDs because of concerns that clips that attach the generator fuse block to the vehicles’ body can come loose and cause a fire.
Defective Airbag Software in Chevrolet Impalas
In 2003, the automotive industry adopted new standards for airbag deployment. Software was created to deploy the airbag with less force when the occupant was belted and to turn off the airbag when a child is riding in the front seat.
Automotive industry safety advocates are calling for an investigation into the airbag software of model-year 2003-2010 Chevrolet Impalas. They believe that a glitch in the airbag software can misread a passenger’s weight and prevent frontal airbags from deploying in the event of a crash. While no official recall has been announced by GM, safety advocates believe this glitch can be related to over 140 fatalities since the software was adopted by GM.
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If you or a loved one has been injured due to a dangerous or defective automobile, we are here to help. Contact us today to speak with an experienced Philadelphia product liability lawyer. We offer free initial consultations and handle cases on a contingency fee basis – you won’t have to pay us until we get results for you.