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Cadillac Test Drivers Complained of Ignition Switch Shutoff in 2006

Tina Robinson3 years ago

In a letter sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) made public on Wednesday, Delphi Automotive disclosed that GM engineers requested changes to ignition switches in 2006 after test drivers complained of engine stalls after bumping ignition keys with their knees.

Complaints about the 2007 Cadillac SRX

According to the Wall Street Journal, new documents released by NHTSA on Wednesday show that test drivers of the 2007 Cadillac SRX reported engine stalls after bumping the ignition switch with their knee. The complaints prompted GM engineers to request Delphi make changes to the switches.

The new documents do not disclose the name of who at GM requested the change. It also does not show if engineers assigned to the Cobalt and small car program were aware of the Cadillac complaints.

Cobalt Switches Changed in 2006

Around the same time as complaints were made about the Cadillac SRX switches, the ignition switches in the Cobalts, Ions and other models was also quietly changed. Normally, a redesigned part would be assigned its own separate part number, but for unknown reasons, the new ignition switch was given the same part number as its defective predecessor.

Last week, GM suspended two engineers in charge of the Cobalt program. One of those engineers, Ray DeGiorgio, had testified that he was unaware of changes made to the ignition switches. Documents released as part of ongoing investigations into the recall, however, showed DeGiorgio had in fact authorized the redesign in 2006.

GM Rejected Safer Switch in 2001

Also on Wednesday, Clarence Ditlow from the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) and former NHTSA director Joan Claybrook sent a letter GM alleging the automaker rejected a safer ignition switch in 2001 due to costs. 

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