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GM doubles auto recall; 13 killed in car accidents

An auto recall related to a serious safety defect has been doubled from fewer than 800,000 autos to more than 1.6 million. The manufacturer of the defective autos, General Motors, admitted on Feb. 25 that its procedure for issuing recalls is seriously flawed.

The auto defect can cause the airbags in affected vehicles not to deploy in the event of a collision. Tragically, 13 people have been killed because of this serious problem. There have been a total of 31 reports of front-seat airbags not inflating in a crash.

GM recalled a total of 778,562 of Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 cars from model years 2005 - 2007 earlier in February. But then, on Feb. 25, the automaker added another 842,103 vehicles to the recall for having the same safety problem. The newly included vehicles include Saturn Ions and Skys, Pontiac Solstices and Chevy HHRs, all of which were models years sometime between 2003 through 2007.

In announcing the more than doubling of the recall, GM’s head of North American operations admitted that the company made a terrible mistake. In a statement, he said that GM’s recall process is “not as robust as it should have been.” He promised that GM would “take an unflinching look” at its procedures and make improvements. It is not clear how many of the 13 fatalities have taken place since the initial recall notice.

The problem has to do with the ignition switch. A relatively heavy key ring can cause the switch to move out of “run,” which suddenly shuts off the engine and most electrical components. GM dealerships will replace the ignition switches at no charge.

It is troubling that a major auto manufacturer could almost allow hundreds of thousands of defective cars remain on the streets. Hopefully, this new round of recalls is the final one that will be necessary.

Source: Reuters, “GM more than doubles North American ignition-switch recall,” Feb. 25, 2014

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