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GM Owners Complained about Switches 17 Years Ago

Tina Robinson2 years ago

Last week, General Motors added more than 8 million vehicles to the list of vehicles recalled with ignition switch problems. According to a review of customer complaints conducted by Reuters, customers have been complaining about problems with the ignitions for 17 years.

Complaints about the 1997 Chevy Malibu

Two models included in the most recent GM recall include the 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu and 2000-2005 Chevrolet Impala. Reuters reviewed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) complaint database and found that customers complained of problems with the Malibu all the way back in 1997.

The complaints indicate numerous problems with the ignition switches including:

  • GM keys that can stick in the ignition
  • GM keys that can be pulled out while the vehicle is running
  • Ignition switches that failed to start the vehicle
  • Ignition switches that appeared to cause engine stalls

Similar complaints have been lodged about the Impala. Starting in 2000, owners complained about engine stalls, sometimes at highway speeds.  In 2001, GM issued a technical service bulletin advising dealers of potential ignition problems with both models.

When GM announced last Monday the 8 million vehicle recall, the company acknowledged two fatal crashes could have been caused by ignition defects. Those crashes involved a 2003 and 2004 Impala which led to three fatalities.

15 Million GM Vehicles with Ignition Switch Problems

Overall, GM has recalled about 15 million vehicles with ignition problems. This number includes about 2.63 million Chevy Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other related small cars that were recalled in February and March. The ignition switches in those vehicles were poorly designed, failing to meet even GM’s specifications, and can cause engine stalls, brake failure, and most tragically, airbag failure. The GM ignition recall has been linked to at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes. Documents showed that GM knew about that problem for more than a decade before taking action.

Since then, the automaker has been subject of two congressional probes, a Department of Justice investigation, and was slapped with a $35 million fine for the delay. In June, GM issued a recall for more than half a million Chevy Camaros and about 3.16 million mid- to large-size sedans with what the company calls “unintended ignition key rotation.” These vehicles, much like the Cobalts and Ions, can shut off due to extra weight on the key, contact with drivers’ knees, and bumpy roads.

Thomas J. Henry Fights for GM Recall Victims

Thomas J. Henry is representing more than 1,000 GM recall victims across the United States and has been investigating injuries and deaths linked to the recall since day one. The firm launched a nationwide media investigation into the recall in April, which brought forth thousands of affected individuals who had information critical to the investigation – information that the firm has handed over to federal agencies also investigating GM’s sluggish response the recall. As more and more individuals have flocked to Thomas J. Henry for representation, the firm has continued to push GM for a victim settlement fund. The firm has had several talks with GM’s victim compensation expert Ken Feinberg regarding appropriate victim compensation for the thousands affected by a fatal design flaw in ignition switches which left numerous dead and countless others seriously injured. 


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