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Many GM Cars Recalled over Defective Ignition Switch Still Not Fixed

Nov 5, 2014

Even though General Motors initiated the recall over a defective ignition switch nine months ago, nearly half of the affected cars remain unrepaired. According to The New York Times, some drivers who requested repairs months ago are still waiting for action while dealers have been handling wait-lists over the massive recall, which affects 2.36 million cars.

Some drivers have also written to federal regulators asking why the repairs are taking so long; some are pointing to safety concerns as the faulty unrepaired vehicles remain on the road longer and longer. A recent fatal accident seems to reflect this issue, NYT reports. On Oct. 9th, a 25-year old woman was killed while driving her red 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. According to her mother, she tried to fix the defect twice but was turned away both times.

The problem with the recalled vehicles is that the ignition switch can cut power to the car while driving, disabling airbags, power steering and brakes. Police are investigating whether the recent accident is linked to the ignition defect, which is already linked to 30 deaths.

The victim's mother told NYT that several weeks before the fatal accident, her daughter's car turned off suddenly after hitting a bump while driving in the Bronx. A spokesman for the Yonkers Police Department said the damage to the car was so severe that the black box data may be unusable. The cause of death, according to the county medical examiner, was thermal burns, asphyxiation because of carbon monoxide and laceration of the liver. Some auto engineering experts say that the liver laceration is a sign that the airbag did not deploy, based on the driver's small frame.

The woman's mother told NYT that when she learned of the ignition switch defect, she called a dealer to fix it. But the first dealer turned her down because the vehicle was purchased from a towing service. The second dealer looked up the vehicle identification number, and claimed that the car was already repaired. As it turns out, the car was not fixed. GM's list of certified dealers included both of the dealers she contacted. “I thought I had done everything right,” the mother said to NYT.

Apparently, she was not the only consumer to be incorrectly 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.

A number of other drivers have also had difficulty with the repairs, and some who have received the repairs are still reporting issues. “The ignition switch problem still persists after having the recall service performed,” said one driver from Mesa, Ariz., 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.”

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