Nine Months after GM Ignition Switch Recall, Many Cars Still Unrepaired

According to The New York Times, nearly half of the cars affected by the GM ignition switch recall are still not repaired nine months later. The recall, which now affects 2.36 million cars, was initiated because the ignition switch can suddenly switch out of the “run” position in a jarring event, such as a bump in the road. This disables power to airbags, brakes and power steering. Thirty deaths have been linked to the defect so far.

Even among some drivers who had the repair, the issue seems to persist. “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.”

Meanwhile, others have been waiting for months. Dozens of drivers have written federal regulators about the long time frame, some expressing safety concerns about the faulty unfixed vehicles on the road. This seems to be reflected in a recent fatal accident, NYT reports. A 25-year old woman was killed on Oct. 9th while driving her red 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt. Her mother told NYT she attempted to repair the ignition switch twice but was turned away by both dealers.

Even though the dealers were on GM’s certified dealers list, both turned her away. The first said that because the car was purchased from a tow service, he would not do the repair. The second dealer incorrectly claimed that the car was already repaired after looking up the vehicle identification number. “I thought I had done everything right,” the mother said to NYT. Police are investigating whether the defect caused her daughter’s accident. The victim’s mother told NYT that the car did in fact stall several weeks before her daughter’s accident. While driving in the Bronx, she hit a bump and the car turned off. According to a spokesman for the Yonkers Police Department, damage to the car was so severe that the black box data may be unusable. The county medical examiner cited the cause of death as 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 victim’s mother was not the only one to be told the car was repaired when it had not. “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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