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GM Starts the Year Off with Another Ignition Switch Recall

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After topping the charts in 2014 as the car manufacturer with the most recalls in a single year (at least 30 million worldwide), General Motors (GM) started out the new year with yet another recall affecting full-size trucks and SUVs.

Most of the previous recalls were issued because of potentially faulty ignition switches. These could inadvertently turn into the “off” position, potentially affecting airbag function in an accident. At least 40 deaths have been linked with faulty GM ignition switches.

GM Recalls More Vehicles

On December 31, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acknowledged receipt of GM’s notice of a safety recall for the 2011-2012 model years of the following vehicles:

  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Cadillac Escalade ESV
  • Cadillac Escalade EXT
  • Chevrolet Avalanche
  • Chevrolet Silverado
  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • GMC Sierra
  • GMC Yukon
  • GMC Yukon XL

GM estimates the number of vehicles affected to be over 83,000 in the U.S., and about another 10,000 in Mexico and Canada. The potential ignition switch defect is slightly different from those affecting previous vehicles, in that the switch may become locked or stuck in the start position.

If this happens, GM states the “ignition may suddenly snap back into the ‘Accessory’ position, causing a loss of engine, steering, and braking power, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash.” The risk of such a snap-back is higher when the vehicle experiences a significant jarring event. GM goes on to note that in a related crash, the air bags may not deploy, which may increase the risk of serious injury to the driver and passengers.

So far, no crashes or injuries have been reported linked to this particular ignition switch defect.

GM Promises to Notify Car Owners

GM has promised to notify the owners of the affected vehicles, and to replace the ignition lock housing free of charge. The NHTSA reminded the company that it must provide an estimated schedule of when it will be sending owners and dealers notifications of the recall, and that GM is required to get all notifications out within 60 days of the notification to the NHTSA.

Owners of GM vehicles may contact customer service at the following numbers:

  1. Cadillac: 1-800-458-8006
  2. Chevrolet: 1-800-222-1020
  3. GMC: 1-800-462-8782

A second announced recall concerns faulty hose clamps in Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickup trucks (2015), and a third concerns faulty rear axle shafts in 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC 1500 pickup trucks.

GM Faces Criminal Probe

GM started out 2014 with a recall of about 800,000 Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles in February, followed by another recall of about 600,000 Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ion, and Saturn Sky vehicles later the same month. The company acknowledged that about 13 deaths had been related to the defect in March 2014, but that number later climbed to near 40, and may still climb even higher.

GM is currently under investigation by the NHTSA and the Justice Department over concerns it delayed the recalls when it was well aware of the problems with the ignition switches as early as 2004.