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General Motors Could Face More Fines for Impala Recall

Tina Robinson2 years ago

During a House hearing on Wednesday about the GM ignition recall, an e-mail from 2005 was uncovered that discussed engine stalls in Chevrolet Impalas – nine years before the vehicles were recalled. According to the Detroit Free Press, the e-mail exchange could trigger further fines for the automaker.

Laura Andres: ‘I’m Thinking Big Recall’

The e-mails in question were brought to GM CEO Mary Barra by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) during a House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. The e-mail chain, started in August 2005, was written by a GM employee named Laura Andres. Andres had been test driving a 2006 Chevrolet Impala Special when the engine shut off after going over a pothole. In her e-mail, sent to 11 GM employees, Andres wrote: “I think this is a serious safety problem … I’m thinking big recall.”

Andres e-mail turned out to be prophetic as GM announced on Monday a recall affecting 3.16 million mid- and large-size vehicles with poorly designed ignition keys. The only problem is the nine-year gap between Andres e-mail and the recall itself.  Under federal regulations, automakers are required to inform the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) within five days of determining a safety defect exists. The maximum fine for failing to do so is $35 million.

GM has already been fined $35 million for a decade-long delay in recalling 2.6 million older cars with defective ignition switches. The vehicles – mostly Chevy Cobalts and Saturn Ions – have been linked to 13 deaths and 54 crashes by GM. 

While the Andres e-mail is not proof alone that GM failed to act in a timely manner, it does highlight the notion that at least one employee saw the engine stalls as a safety problem.

About the Ignition Key Recall

The latest massive GM recall affects vehicles that can experience engine stalls due to a faulty key design that makes it easy for the ignition key to move out of the “run” position. The engine stalls also causes standard safety features such as power brakes, power steering, and airbags to become disabled. GM has said it aware of eight crashes and six injuries associated with the recalled vehicles.

The vehicles affected by the recall include:

  • 2005-2009 Buick Lacrosse
  • 2006-2014 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2000-2005 Cadillac Deville
  • 2004-2011 Cadillac DTS
  • 2006-2011 Buick Lucerne
  • 2004-2005 Buick Regal
  • 2006-2008 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

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