GM Recall Updates: What You Need to Know

GM Recall Updates: What You Need to Know

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 22-Apr-2014

Product Liability Lawyers Orlando and Winter Park

What began in February with the recall of 778,000 GM vehicles has evolved into a massive recall totalling 2.6 million cars, an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and ongoing questions about why the company and federal agency that received reports of the ignition problems failed to warn consumers.

The recall includes all model years of the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac G5 and Pontiac Solstice from 2003 to 2011. The recall as prompted by faulty ignition switches that turn off without warning, leaving drivers without power steering and power brakes, sometimes in the middle of traffic. The faulty ignition switch has been linked to 13 deaths.

General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra recently announced that two GM engineers had been put on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation. Barra said she "agonized" over the decision to send the men home, despite the role they may have played in downplaying the dangers of faulty ignition switches that led to at least 13 deaths.

But the two engineers are far from the only ones who knew about the faulty switches. On the contrary, the automaker knew the ignition switches had problems in the pre-production stage, before they even reached the public. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was made aware of the problems as far back as 2007, but failed to act.

The GM ignition recall timeline

According to, GM and the NHTSA were at least "peripherally aware" of the ignition defects for more than a decade, starting with reports in the pre-production stages of the 2002 Saturn Ion. In 2001-2002, the first report of such a problem surfaced in notes before the vehicle was even sent to dealerships.

In 2005, GM first took note of another vehicle, the Chevy Cobalt, having similar problems. They opened engineering inquiries that year but didn't take any significant action.

In 2006, GM attempted to fix the problem when test drivers alerted them to the dangers. But in fixing the issues, the vehicle giant mixed old parts with new, using pieces of the flawed ignition switches and keeping them under the same item number, essentially making the problem even more complex than it was previously.

The NHTSA first mentioned the faulty ignition switches in 2007, when they proposed an investigation after the switch caused a serious crash. But in the end, they declined to investigate.

After receiving numerous consumer complaints and reports of additional accidents, the NHTSA in 2010 once again considered an investigation but did not open one.

It wasn't until 2012 that GM acknowledged that their ignition switches were faulty and were causing dangerous accidents. But still, the first round of recalls wasn't issued until February 2014.

Internal and federal investigations into what went wrong

Both GM and the federal government are investigating the timeline, what went wrong and who should be held accountable. GM expects their investigation, conducted by a Chicago law firm tied to the company for the past decade, to be completed in the middle of May.

Both Congress and the NHTSA are looking into the recall too. Though Barra said they are cooperating fully with the federal investigations, the NHTSA reports the company failed to answer more than one-third of their 107 questions. They face a $7,000 fine for each day those questions go unanswered after the April 3 deadline.

This recall and its long-term effects are complex and far from over. After a troubled decade in the 2000s and entering into bankruptcy, GM claims it is protected against liability from those harmed by their faulty ignition switches.

That's a complicated legal question that remains to be sorted out. U.S. Senator AG Blumenthal was opposed to GM shirking liability back in 2009 as they were going through the bankruptcy process and he has made it his business to hold them accountable now-asking the Justice Department to get involved.

For those who have lost family members or been involved in traumatic auto accidents thanks to GM's failure to act sooner, you deserve to receive the full compensation for their injuries and losses.

Categories: Auto Recalls
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