Like the Camaros recalled only a few days ago, the seven different models recalled Monday suffer problems with the ignition components. And while most of the cars previously recalled had a problem with the ignition itself, the 3.4 million newly recalled vehicles feature faultily designed keys.
Faulty ignition switches in the Chevy Cobalt, as well as Pontiac's G5 and Solstice and Saturn's Sky and Ion, were first announced in February. But new reports suggest GM officials were aware the problem for nearly a decade but delayed their response -- apparently dismissing the gravity of the defects.
"A certain amount of people inside GM knew this issue existed and their assumption was it's a pain, it's not a death sentence, it's just an annoyance," Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, told Bloomberg News in an interview today.
That turned out not to be the case. The problems that warranted the earlier recalls have since been linked to -- according to GM -- at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths dating back to 2005. Some lawyers suing the company on behalf of injured victims and bereaved families claim the death toll is more than 60. The latest key problem has been linked to several crashes and half a dozen injuries, but no deaths.
The result of both the February problem and the latest issue, however, is the same: a car that gets suddenly knocked out of the "run" position, causing the car's engine to idle and the vehicle to lose vital components like power steering and airbags.
"This latest recall raises even more questions about just how pervasive safety problems are at GM," Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said Monday in a released statement.
Whether the problem is with the mechanics of the ignition switch or the key, cars can suffer the sudden switch as they experience some sort of turbulence -- like driving over a pothole or speed bump.
The latest recall involves the following models and years: Buick Lacrosse, 2005-2009; Chevrolet Impala, 2006-2014; Cadillac Deville, 2000-2005; Cadillac DTS, 2004-2011; Buick Lucerne, 2006-2011; Buick Regal LS & GS, 2004-2005; and Chevy Monte Carlo, 2006-2008.
GM says it will fix the key -- an apparent weighting issue -- by changing the key ring inset from an elongated oval slot to a small round hole. Owners will be asked to drive with only the car key in the ignition and nothing on their key ring.
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