Auto manufacturer General Motors faces increasing exposure to products liability claims involving personal injury or death after recent revelations of additional problems with some of its vehicles. Last week General Motors announced another defect involving cars that it's previously recalled because of faulty ignition switches. The new recall covers vehicles manufactured from 2003 to 2011.
The defective component is another part of the ignition systems -- the "lock cylinder," which is where the driver inserts the ignition key. The current lock cylinder could allow the key to fall out while the car is running. General Motors states that the lock cylinder defect may cause car accidents, including "a possible roll-away, crash, and occupant or pedestrian injuries."
The company GM said it is "aware of several hundred complaints of keys coming out of ignitions." It said that "searches of GM and government databases found one roll-away in a parking lot that resulted in a crash and one injury claim. The same searches turned up no fatalities."
The previous recall was for faulty ignition switches that can inadvertently slip out of "run." That can cause the engine to shut off shutting off the engine and disable the vehicle's airbags. The ignition switch can possibly, through jostling or car vibration, move from the "on" or "run" position into the "accessory" position. Accessory mode causes the engine to unexpectedly shut down, kills power steering and power braking, and disables the air bags. The ignition switch defect has been linked to 31 crashes and 12 deaths in the United States. Several lawsuits have been filed as a result.
Also last week, General Motors placed two engineers on paid leave as it investigates the engineers' role in the ignition switch issue. The two engineers are Gary Altman, who was the program manager for the Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt programs during most of the 2003 to 2011 time period and Ray DeGiorgio. Mr. DeGiorgio was the designer of the original ignition switch.
Here are the vehicles involved in both the switch and lock cylinder recalls:
2003-2007 Saturn Ion
2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice
2007-2010 Pontiac G5
2007-2010 Saturn Sky
2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR
General Motors has informed owners of the recalled vehicles that the switches and lock cylinders will be sent together. That will allow all necessary recall work to be performed during the same repair visit.By Harley Erbe