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Faulty GM Ignition Switch Reported as Early as 2001

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Tina Robinson4 years ago

Internal documents show the General Motors first received reports of defective ignition switches in 2001.

Ignition Switch Defects Detected in 2001

A report by the Wall Street Journal suggests that General Motors Co. was aware of an ongoing ignition switch problem as early as 2001 – three years earlier than previously reported. In a new timeline released by GM on March 13, there was a documented problem with the ignition switch in a 2001 Saturn Ion prior to the start of regular production.

The problem is with the switch’s detent plunger and inner spring. The faulty switch can turn back to the “accessory” position when the key is jolted or if too much weight is hanging from the key.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into the events surrounding the recall. GM has until April 3 to answer 107 questions posed by the NHTSA.

Updated Chronology of GM Recall

  • Newly discovered reports uncovered by GM show a documented problem with the ignition switch in 2001 for a Saturn Ion assembled prior to regular production.
  • In 2003 a service technician observed an Ion stall while driving. The owner had several keys on the key ring and reportedly “wore out” the switch. The switch was replaced, and the report was closed.
  • In 2004 GM employees learned of an incident in which a Chevrolet Cobalt lost power to the engine when the key was jarred out of the “on” position. After an engineering inquiry it was determined to be too long and costly to fix the problem.
  • The ignition switch was redesigned in 2007, but cars with the older-style switch were not recalled until February of 2014.

About the GM Recall

  • Approximately 1.6 million cars are affected by the recall. At least 13 deaths and 33 frontal collisons have been linked to the defective swithces.
  • Repairs will begin in April for the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, the 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, the 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, the 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice and the 2007 Saturn Sky.
  • GM is offering a $500 cash allowance for owners of the recalled vehicles to purchase or lease a new GM product if they are unhappy with the vehicle.
  • Delphi Automotive PLC, who manufactures the switch, says the replacement part costs between $2 and $5, and it can be swapped out quickly by mechanics.  


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