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Most GM Ignition Switch Deaths Happened After Part Redesign

Tina Robinson3 years ago

A new report shows that most of the deaths linked to defective GM ignition switches occurred after the part was redesigned in April 2006. An earlier recall coupled with the redesign may have saved lives.

Details of the Automotive News Investigation

According to an in-depth investigation by Automotive News, seven of the eight deaths involving Chevrolet Cobalts and at least one involving a Saturn Ion happened after April 2006. This date is significant because that is when a GM engineer signed a document approving a design change of the defective ignition switch. Had a recall been performed simultaneously with the redesign, it is possible that those deaths could have been averted.

The faulty ignition switches have been connected to 12 deaths and 34 crashes by the automaker. A design flaw in the switches allows keys to be moved out  of the “run” position and into the “accessory” or “off” position when bumped or extra weight is put on the key ring. The result is a sudden loss of engine power and safety features that has potentially disastrous effects.

GM recalled 1.6 million vehicles in February to repair the issue.

Timeline of Chevrolet Cobalt Deaths

GM has not publicly identified 11 of the 12 deaths associated with defective ignition switches, but research conducted by Automotive News believes it has identified the eight deaths involving Cobalts:

  • July 2005, Maryland
  • October 2006, Wisconsin
  • October 2007, Ohio
  • September 2008, Michigan (2 deaths)
  • April 2009, Pennsylvania (2 deaths)
  • December 2009, Tennessee

Additionally Automotive News research identified two of the four deaths that happened in 2004 Saturn Ions. One accident happened in Texas in 2004; the other in Missouri in 2009. 

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