Last month, General Motors recalled 1.62 million cars worldwide because of an ignition switch issue in which the switch moves out of the “run” position, resulting in a partial loss of electric power and subsequently turning off the engine. The defect has resulted in 12 deaths and 31 crashes, and federal investigations continue into why GM has known of the switch problem since 2001 but didn’t recall the cars until February 14, 2014
On March 17, 2014 new GM CEO Mary Barra announced three new recalls involving another 1.5 million vehicles that are unrelated to the ignition switch recall. The new recalls involve:
- Seat-mounted side airbags, front center air bags, and seat belt pretensioners that might not deploy due to a wiring defect in 1.18 million full-size crossover SUVs, including the 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse, 2008-2013 Buick Enclave, 2008-2013 GMC Acadia, and the 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook. According to GM, if the air-bag warning light on the instrument panel comes on but the owner ignores it, the wiring eventually will fail and the bags won’t function. No known injuries or accidents linked to the defect have been reported.
- A plug in the brake system of 63,900 2013 and 2014 Cadillac XTS sedans can potentially get dislodged, allow corrosion, and cause overheating that may increase the risk of an engine-compartment fire. GM says it is aware of two fires at dealerships involving dealer-owned vehicles and two warranty claims, but no fires in customer cars, and no injuries have been reported, according to a report in USA TODAY.
- Front passengers foregoing seat belts in Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana commercial vans are at risk for head injuries because the material on the instrument panel does not meet federal standards and needs to be reworked, according to GM. Passengers wearing seat belts are not at risk. This recall involves 303,000 of the 2009-2014 standard and medium-duty models primarily driven by tradesmen and delivery services, and also passenger shuttles used by hotels, airports, and churches. Until a fix is found, GM issued a stop delivery order for vans still at dealerships.
According to the New York Daily News, GM expects to spend approximately $300 million in the first quarter of 2014 to repair the vehicles involved in the new recalls as well as the vehicles in the earlier recall. Barra, who has personally assumed control of GM’s recall response, is scheduled to testify about the recalls before a congressional subcommittee on April 1, 2014.