New evidence suggests that General Motors was made aware of a dangerous defect in their popular compact cars as early as 2004. For 10 years, the company has been dragging its feet in carrying out a recall—despite the fact that the defect has already resulted in 6 deaths.
Faulty Ignition Switch
A Georgia attorney is representing the family of one of the women killed in 2005 while driving one of the recalled vehicles; a 2005 cobalt.
According to CNN, the deposition transcripts showed that a GM engineer experienced a problem during a 2004 test drive. The ignition of one of the recalled vehicles was either bumped or shaken out of the “on” position. GM’s engineered concluded in 2005 that the problem was extremely hazardous; if the engine shuts off, it leads to a loss of power steering and braking assistance. If a collision did occur, the airbags would fail to deploy.
GM Hesitates to Carry Out Recall for a Decade
Delaying recalls has unfortunately become a growing trend in automakers. Last year, Ford had to pay $17.4 million for not promptly recalling their Ford Escape SUVs after it was discovered that the gas pedals were getting stuck. In 2010, Toyota paid the maximum penalty of $32.4 million for failing to notify the NHTSA for a similar problem.
By Law, automakers are required to report safety hazards to the NHTSA within 5 days of learning of the defect. Today the maximum fine is $35 million.
Instead of issuing a recall, GM tried to address the safety hazard in 2006 by issuing a “Technical Service Bulletin,” which is intended to instruct dealers to fix problems that are not safety related. The TSB explained that the ignition could easily turn off in six of their compact car models. Dealers were instructed to put an insert into the ignition switch so that consumers’ heavy key chains would not turn the switch.
February Recall of Affected Compact Cars
Last week, General Motors announced the recall of over 775,000 vehicles in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 cars made between 2005 and 2007 are being recalled to replace the faulty switches.
It is curious, however, that only two models are part of the recall when the TSB was handed out for six models. The New York Times has suggested that GM is continuing to drag their feet on the issue. Let’s hope that GM addresses the issue of the four other car models—they have been unresponsive to the media’s questions regarding the compact cars.
Too often, companies will neglect a safety issue when it could interfere with their profit margins. If you are injured in an accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney at Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers. Our lawyers are recognized as leaders in personal injury litigation by our peers.