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Faulty Ignition Switch Still Not Fixed in Many GM Vehicles

Nov 6, 2014

The ignition switch defect affecting 2.36 million General Motors vehicles has still not been fixed in nearly half of the recalled cars, The New York Times reports. The issue is that the faulty switch ignition switch can switch the car out of the “run” position, disabling critical features such as power steering, brakes and airbags. The defect has been linked to 30 deaths. GM has come under intense scrutiny over the ignition switch recall, and is facing multiple investigations, including a federal criminal inquiry. The company has been highly criticized for taking over a decade to act on the problem.

Now, it appears that the timeline for repairs is also lengthy. According to NYT, drivers who requested a repair months ago are still waiting for their vehicles to be fixed as dealers manage long wait-lists. The recall was initiated nine months ago, and some drivers have written to federal regulators asking why the repairs are taking so long. Some also said they were worried about the recalled cars remaining on the road.

It is also alarming that some drivers, despite getting the repair, are still reporting issues. “The ignition switch problem still persists after having the recall service performed,” said one driver from Mesa, Arizona, in September. “I was shifting my hips to adjust my seating position, and my knee bumped into my keychain and caused the ignition to switch to the ‘off’ position. I was luckily able to move to the shoulder of the highway, shift into park and restart the vehicle. This event happened within 48 hours of having the recall service performed at a Chevrolet dealership.”

NYT reports on a recent tragic accident that is potentially linked to the ignition switch defect. The accident involved a 25-year old woman who was killed while driving her 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt, which was affected by the recall. Her mother told NYT that she tried to have the car fixed twice before the accident, but was rejected both times even though both dealers were on GM’s certified list of dealers. The first dealer turned her away because the car was purchased from a towing service. The second dealer looked up the vehicle identification number, and incorrectly told her that the car was already fixed. “I thought I had done everything right,” the mother said to NYT.

The car seemed to exhibit the ignition switch defect weeks before the accident, the victim’s mother said. She told NYT that while she was in the car with her daughter, the car suddenly turned off when it hit a bump in the road.

The young woman died of thermal burns, asphyxiation because of carbon monoxide and laceration of the liver, the county medical examiner said. Given the woman’s small frame, some auto experts say the liver laceration is a sign that the air bags did not deploy. A spokesman for the Yonkers Police Department said the damage to the car was so severe that the black box data may be unusable.

This has not been the only reported incident where a driver was inaccurately told the car was fixed. “The dealer stated that the repair was already completed in May of 2014 and would not repair the vehicle a second time.” said the owner of an unrepaired 2008 Chevrolet HHR in a complaint logged into the NHTSA's database.

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