GM Auto Defects

In the past year, General Motors (GM) has issued safety recalls related to the ignition switch, air bags, steering, seat belts, seats, brakes and powertrain of its vehicles. The number of vehicles affected has reached staggering numbers, affecting millions of Americans – both drivers of GM vehicles and other drivers on the road threatened by the danger of these defective GM vehicles.

The auto defect lawyers at Robinson Calcagnie, Inc. are investigating GM Vehicle Defect cases and  are prepared to perform a free assessment of your case. Senior and founding partner Mark P. Robinson, Jr. has handled some of the most notable and notorious automobile defect cases in US history. Mr. Robinson, who was lead attorney in the landmark Ford Pinto exploding gas tank case, was also co-lead counsel representing plaintiffs in the more recent record-setting class action settlement against Toyota in the acceleration cases.

The recalls for each defect affect a large number of GM vehicles and are as follows:

  • Ignition Switch Defects: 8,542,719 vehicles recalled to date.
  • Air Bag Defects: 1,583,771 vehicles recalled to date.
  • Seat Belt Defects: 1,416,258 vehicles recalled to date.
  • Seat Defects: 414,333 vehicles recalled to date.
  • Brake Defects: 2,787,591 vehicles recalled to date.
  • Steering Defects: 1,457,383 vehicles recalled to date.
  • Powertrain Defects: 2,232,932 vehicles recalled to date.

Each recall poses a severe safety risk that can lead to potentially catastrophic injuries or consequences.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you or someone you know has a potential claim against GM for injuries caused by their vehicle defects, and would like Robinson Calcagnie, Inc. to conduct a free assessment of your claim.

GM Ignition Switch Recall

GM CEO TestifiesGM Hires Compensation Claims Specialist | Over 300 Deaths May Be Linked to GM Ignition Defect |  GM Recall Timeline

UPDATE:  In response to General Motors’ April 21 Motion to bar lawsuits stemming from ignition defects in cars it sold before their 2009 bankruptcy, attorney Mark P. Robinson, Jr. and co-counsel have filed an Objection to prevent GM from using its bankruptcy to shield it from liability for GMs intentional concealment and misconduct.  Click here.

The copy of the objection filed by Mark P. Robinson, Jr. and co-counsel can be found here.

CEO Testifies Before Congress

GM CEO Mary Barra testified before a US House of Representatives committee during which she conceded that company officials were aware that faulty ignition switches were involved in crashes and deaths spanning more than a decade.  She said she found the automaker’s worries about the cost of replacing the switches “disturbing.”  The House and Senate are conducting investigations of possible criminal conduct at GM.

 GM Hires Compensation Claims Specialist

Kenneth Feinberg, a specialist in compensation claims, has been hired by GM to explore the possibility of compensating victims of accidents caused by the defective ignition switch.  Feinberg has previously handled compensation issues for victims of 9/11, the BP oil spill, and the Boston Marathon bombings.  However, GM has refused to confirm that victims will actually be compensated, much less receive reasonable settlement values.

On February 10, 2014, General Motors LLC (GM) announced a recall of certain model year 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt, and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles, affecting over 780,000 cars.  Two weeks later, the company expanded its recall to include an additional 748,024 vehicles, increasing the recall to over 1.5 million vehicles worldwide.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), General Motors notified the agency “that it has determined that a defect, which relates to motor vehicle safety, exists” in the recalled vehicles.

“The safety defect concerns a condition in which the vehicle’s ignition switch may unintentionally move from the ‘run’ position to the ‘accessory’ or ‘off’ position, resulting in a loss of power.  This risk may be increased if the key ring is carrying added weight or the vehicle goes off road or experiences some other impact-related event.  In some cases, the timing of the ignition switch movement relative to the activation of the sensing algorithm of the crash event may result in the airbags not deploying.”

The full list of recalled vehicles includes:

  •  2003-2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit
  • 2007 Pontiac G5
  • 2007 Saturn Sky

The Recall Notice from GM advises owners that “There is a risk, under certain conditions, that your ignition switch may move out of the ‘run’ position, resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine. This risk increases if your key ring is carrying added weight (such as more keys or the key fob) or your vehicle experiences rough road conditions or other jarring or impact related events. If the ignition switch is not in the run position, the air bags may not deploy if the vehicle is involved in a crash, increasing the risk of injury or fatality.”

According to automotive experts, the weight on the key ring and/or jarring road conditions can cause the key to fall out of the “run” position while being driven, resulting in shutdown of the engine and electrical system.  Specifically, the power steering, power brakes and the deployment of airbags may directly be affected, increasing the risk of crash resulting in serious injury and/or death.

Over 300 Deaths May Be Linked to GM Ignition Defect

GM initially reported that 13 deaths may be linked to the faulty ignition.  However, the New York Times reported that a study commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety found that 303 people were killed in accidents where airbags failed to deploy in two of the vehicles subject to recall.  According to the Times, this number was based on a review of accident reports at the scene by state and local police agencies.

The attorneys at Robinson Calcagnie, Inc. have successfully represented clients injured by defective vehicles across the nation.

Timeline of General Motors Faulty Ignition Switch Recall

2001 – According to a 2001 internal report disclosed by GM, the company discovered an issue with the Saturn Ion ignition switch during pre-production development.

2003 – A service technician observed an Ion stall while driving.  A heavy key ring had worn out the switch, causing the ignition to switch into the “off” position.  The technician replaced it and the inquiry was closed.

2004 – GM learned that in a 2005 Chevy Cobalt, the engine could shut off if the driver bumped the ignition switch.

May 2005 – A GM engineer proposes a redesigned ignition key head, which was approved but later rejected.

July 29, 2005 – A driver of a 2005 Cobalt dies after airbags failed to deploy in a frontal collision.  This is the first death tied to a defective ignition switch.

December 2005 – GM issues a bulletin to dealers about an ignition switch problem, but does not  issue a recall

April 26, 2006 – Delphi Mechatronics – the manufacturer of the ignition switch – proposes a new ignition change which a GM engineer approves, but does not issue a recall for vehicles using the unmodified design.

Aug 1, 2006 – Another GM customer reports a stall after an ignition switch was replaced; GM engineers alleged that they could not duplicate the problem and the review was cancelled.

October 2006 – GM is informed by a NHTSA representative of the July 9, 2005 fatal crash.  A GM engineer is alleged to have conducted an investigation.

September 2007 – The Chief of the Defects Assessment Division emailed other officials recommending an investigation of non-deploying frontal airbags in crashes involving 2003-2006 Cobalts and Saturn Ions.  NHTSA officials did not identify a trend and regulators did not open an investigation.

Summer 2010 – GM discontinues production of the Cobalt.

March 29, 2010 – Another fatal crash occurred.  The driver lost control of her Chevrolet Cobalt and was hit by another vehicle.  The family claimed it was caused by a defective ignition switch.  GM settled the lawsuit in 2013.

August 2011 – A GM engineer is assigned investigate crashes of 2005-2007 year Cobalts and 2007 Pontiac G5 in which airbags failed to deploy.

May 2012 –  GM conducts a study of ignition switches and finds sub-standard torque performances in ignitions switches from 2007 models and earlier.

Oct 29, 2013 – GM discovers that 2010 ignition switch differed substantially from original equipment on a 2005 cobalt.

Dec 17, 2013 – GM committee reviews findings from an outside engineering source that was charged with conducting a broader ignition switch survey.

Late 2013 – GM admits at least 31 accidents and 12 deaths are tied to the faulty ignition switch.

Jan 31, 2014 – GM committee reviews findings for a second time and decides to issue a recall.

Feb 2014 – GM recalls 619,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s, then expands its recall to nearly 1.4 million vehicles.

Additional Resources

Included in the list below are public documents released by NHTSA associated with the GM ignition recall:

Recall Acknowledgement

Defect Notice (Part 573)

Defect Notice (Part 573) – Amended

Defect Notice (Part 573) – Amendment #2

Defect and Noncompliance Notice (Part 573) – Amendment #3

Manufacturer Notices (to Dealers, etc)

Manufacturer Notices (to Dealers, etc)

Manufacturer Notices (to Dealers, etc)

Delphi’s response to NHTSA questions

GM response to NHTSA questions

Owner Notification Letter (Part 577) – Interim

Other Recall Related Documents