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GM Ignition Recall

GM Ignition Recall Linked to 303 Deaths

In February and March of 2014, General Motors recalled 2.6 million vehicles with defective ignition switches which can cause the vehicles to lose power without warning, disabling power steering, brakes, and airbags. In June of 2014, the company recalled an additional 9.9 million vehicles for a similar issue.

These ignition defects have been linked to numerous accidents and multiple fatalities.

General Motors is accused of delaying the recall after the ignition problem was initially detected in 2001. Had the company reported the defect to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) when it was first discovered, multiple deaths could have been prevented.



  • GM allegedly became aware of the defect in 2001 after a report was filed in connection to a Saturn Ion, before mass production initiated.
  • In 2004, a GM engineer experienced the problem during the test-drive of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt.
  • In 2005, engineers were able to conclude that the vehicles’ ignition switches were prone to failure.
  • U.S. law requires that all safety defects be reported to the NHTSA within five days of discovery – failure to do so carries a fine of up to $35 million.
  • GM has attempted to fix the problem without issuing a recall, instead sending out “Technical Service Bulletins” instructing dealers to fix the problems – such bulletins are sent when a problem is not deemed a safety issue.

GM is being investigated by a number of federal and state agencies for their decade-long failure to address safety problems in the recalled vehicles. The U.S. Senate called GM CEO Mary Barra to testify about the company’s role in delaying the recall. Barra’s written testimony was released prior to the hearings.

Also in anticipation of the hearings, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to GM, criticizing the company’s failure to admit they approved ignition switches that did not meet their own specifications.

David Friedman, head of NHTSA, was also called to testify and explain why the agency opened and closed investigations into the faulty ignition switches in 2007 and 2010 without issuing any recalls.Friedman’s written testimony was also released in anticipation of the hearing.

The Justice Department has also begun a criminal investigation into the matter.


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