In the latest in a string of recalls that began in February, on Monday General Motors Co. announced the recall of 1.3 million vehicles at risk for losing power steering because of a defect unrelated to the massive ignition switch recall.
Chevrolet Malibu, Maxx, HHR, and Cobalt; Saturn Aura and Ion; and Pontiac G6 vehicles from model years 2004 to 2010 are among the recalled vehicles. An affected car can suddenly lose electric power steering assist, making it more difficult for the driver to steer and increasing the risk of an accident, Law360 explains.
Some of these vehicles had previously been recalled or their warranties had been extended, but GM said it not done “enough,” according to Law360. Jeff Boyer, GM’s newly appointed vice president of global safety, said the company would look for every car that might have the power steering problem, and “we are going to make it right.” And in yet another March recall, 1.5 million vehicles were called back for problems including engine compartment fires and airbag deployment failures.
Today, GM chief executive Mary Barra appears before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to face questioning about the events and decisions in the ten years leading up to the ignition switch recall. A crucial issue in investigations by Congress, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and federal prosecutors is whether GM concealed a known defect for more than a decade before acting, Law360 reports.
When GM emerged from its 2009 bankruptcy, the “new GM” was shielded from liabilities connected to the “old” GM. But experts say claims could be pursued against the new GM if it is determined that there was fraud in the bankruptcy agreement, Law360 writes.
In cars equipped with the faulty ignition switch, the danger is that if the key is jostled or the key ring is too heavy, the ignition switch can move out of the “run” position, turning off the engine and disabling the air bags, which will not deploy in a crash. GM has acknowledged the switch’s link to 13 deaths and 31 crashes. GM has indicated that engineers and executives first knew of or suspected safety problems as far back as 2001 but did not pursue internal attempts to fix the problem, according to Law360. And a memo released by a House on Sunday says potential solutions were rejected in 2005 because they would prove too costly.
Personal injury claims have been filed in Minnesota by the families of two women who died and one who was gravely injuring in a crash in an allegedly defective Chevrolet Cobalt in 2006. In a dozen class actions nationwide, vehicle owners allege their vehicle values declined because GM concealed the defect, Law360 reports.