General Motors’ recall for possibly faulty ignition switches has grown to nearly 2.6 million vehicles worldwide. And, it has disclosed that its dealers used potentially defective switches to fix cars that the company recalled.
GM expanded the recall by another 971,000 vehicles late Friday, on top of the 1.6 million Chevrolet, Saturn, Pontiac and other models that it recalled because of the defect. That includes all 2003 to 2011 cars in the vehicle family containing the ignition switches. Of those vehicles, 2.2 million were sold in the United States.
The faulty switches have been linked to the deaths of 12 people in the vehicles. If the ignition were to fail, and shut off the car, power steering would go out, meaning drivers could lose control of their cars. An electrical outage also mean the airbags do not deploy, increasing the chances of injury.
The news comes as GM Chief Executive Mary Barra prepares to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. GM has made its CEO the public face of its response to the recall crisis. Her appearance will be the most high profile testimony by a car company chief executive since Akio Toyoda appeared before a House committee in 2010.
In its latest announcement, GM said it is “not feasible” for the company to track down the faulty replacement parts, which is why it has decided to replace them. GM said it believes about 95,000 replacement switches were distributed to dealers and parts wholesalers. Of those, about 90,000 switches were used to fix vehicles before a recall was announced in February.
“We are taking no chances with safety,” Barra said in the statement. “Trying to locate several thousand switches in a population of 2.2 million vehicles and distributed to thousands of retailers isn’t practical. Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling the rest of the model years.”
GM said verified replacement parts should become available April 7 for cars built between 2003 and 2007. It expects to notify owners of cars built between 2008 and 2001 during the week of April 21. GM has said that it would provide loaner cars to the owners of vehicles with defective ignitions.
One of the reasons it is “not feasible” for GM to track down those switches may have come to light in an Automotive News story earlier this week. According to the publication, GM changed the design of the faulty switch in 2006. But it did not create a new part number for the switch, which engineers say is a “cardinal sin.”
The situation was not discovered until last year, when an independent investigator figured out why some switches were fine, and others were failing. Because it has only one part number to go by, GM would face sorting through a sea of ignition parts, unable to tell by the designation alone which were modified and which had the original design.
Meanwhile, it now faces the headache of redoing the repairs that were done with faulty switches.
Automotive News also reported that 11 of the 12 deaths involving the cars occurred after the ignition switch was redesigned in 2006, although the deaths involved cars built before 2006. Had the company chosen to recall the cars sooner, the publication said a majority of the fatal crashes could have been avoided.
Said Barra, “We are going to provide our customers with the peace of mind they deserve and expect by getting the new switches into all the vehicles.”
Source: Forbes Auto