GM expands recall of cars to 2.6 million

March 30, 2014 - 7:27:11 am

DETROIT: General Motors Co  expanded its global recall of cars with defective ignition switches to 2.6 million, adding 971,000 later-model vehicles due to concerns over faulty replacement parts.

The recall now includes all model years of the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac G5 and Pontiac Solstice made from 2003-2011.

At least 12 deaths have been linked to the defect in the ignition, which when jostled or bumped can switch itself into “accessory” mode, even at highway speeds, shutting down the engine and disabling power steering, power brakes and airbags.

The expanded recall follows a report on Wednesday that it was still possible to purchase GM-brand ignition switches manufactured by Delphi Automotive carrying the same part number as the product at the centre of the February recall. 

GM redesigned the faulty part for model years after 2007, but it did not change the part number, and it fears that some newer-model cars could have been repaired with defective older-model switches.

Switches still available in parts stores may not be defective, but it is nearly impossible to tell new ones from older-design ones unless they are taken apart or the manufacturing history is checked.

Even before the expansion, the recall had sparked investigations by Congress, federal regulators, the Department of Justice and GM itself. All are asking why it took GM so long to address an issue first noted by the company in 2001. GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said that “we are taking no chances with safety” in replacing the ignition switches on all 2.6 million cars. Barra is due to testify next week before Congress, where she is likely to be grilled on why it took GM more than 10 years to implement the recall.

The expanded recall adds 971,000 cars globally, including 824,000 in the US, GM said.

GM also is recalling all the replacement ignition switches that have been sent to US aftermarket distributors, the spare parts market. About 95,000 faulty switches were sold to dealers and parts wholesalers, of which about 5,000 remain on shelves.Reuters