More Safety Troubles for GM

GMC SIERRA

On Friday of last week, General Motors announced three more recalls including one of its top selling vehicles. The recalls are part of a top to bottom safety review bringing the companny’s total to 48 recalls with a staggering 20 million cars and trucks recalled betting GM’s old full year record of 10.75 million in 2004, according to Tom Krisher’s article GM Issues 3 More Recalls, Covering 474,000 Vehicles. Friday’s recall covered 474,000 vehicles worldwide for a variety of problems with the largest one affecting almost 467,000 four-wheel-drive Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, as well as GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban SUVs. The Sierra is GM’s top-selling vehicle. The company explained the source as a software glitch can cause the transmission transfer case to shift into neutral on their 2014 and 2015 models causing loss of power or can let the trucks roll away if parked. Most were sold in the U.S. and Canada with a small number exported. All the recalled announced had no loss of life or injuries reported. In addition to the above recall, one affects nearly 4,800 Chevrolet SS and Caprice police cars with faulty windshield wiper modules that could strip the gear teeth causing the wipers to fail. In the other case, the dealer will replace the two rear shock absorbers in about 2,000 2014 model year Chevrolet Corvettes with the FE1 and FE3 suspensions due to insufficient welds that could lead to fracture.

GM’s safety troubles and large recalls from other manufacturers has lead the U.S. auto industry to a new full year record for the number of vehicles recalled. In the last 6 months, 32.4 million vehicles have been recalled surpassing the old annual record of 30.8 million in 2004, according to Stericycle, a firm which tracks recalls and helps manage them. The trouble started back in February for GM when it recalled older small cars to fix ignition switches that turn off engines on their own. The problem can cause drivers to lose control as it kills power steering and brakes. Due to the problem then ballooning to 2.6 million vehicles, GM had to admit that it knew of the defect for more than a decade and did not recall the cars til this year. Although lawmakers say the death toll from crashes is closer to 100, GM says the problem caused 54 crashes and 13 deaths. The ignition switch problem touched off a massive safety review in the company and additionally an investigation by Congress, the Justice Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. GM had to pay NHTSA a $35 million fine for delays in reporting the problem to the agency and announced it has taken charges totaling $2 billion to cover recall costs, according to Krisher. Last Thursday, NHTSA posted documents showing GM would recall about 29,000 Chevy Cruze compacts in the U.S. for airbag problems. Additionally Friday, GM said that 4,000 Cruzes from Canada are included in the recall.

However, on Monday, General Motors announced another massive recall covering 8.4 million vehicles in North America  with 8.2 million due to unintended ignition key rotation, according to the Autoblog staff’s article General Motors Recalling 8.4 Million More Vehicles. The size of the recall roughly equates to a car for each resident of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, the District of Columbia, Vermont and Wyoming. Combined. GM is aware of seven crashes, eight injuries and three fatalities related to various issues, the article reports. In a press release, GM stated, “The fatal crashes occurred in older model full size sedans being recalled for inadvertent ignition key rotation. There is no conclusive evidence that the defect condition caused those crashes.

The ongoing safety crisis deepened on Monday as GM issued another recall of 8.23 million mostly older cars linked by the U.S. automakers to three deaths, according to Reuter’s article GM’s ignition-switch crisis deepens; death toll rises to 16. The latest recall brings the total number of acknowledged deaths by GM to at least 16 in cars with switch related problems. The automakers now knows of 61 crashes tied to faulty ignition switches, even though lawmakers believe the number to be much higher and the death toll is expected to rise. In a statement, GM said, “Among these recalled vehicles, GM is aware of seven crashes, eight injuries and three fatalities. The fatal crashes occurred in older model full-size sedans being recalled for inadvertent ignition key rotation. There is no conclusive evidence that the defect condition caused those crashes.” According to Reuters, in June, at least 74 people died in GM cars in accidents with similarities to those that GM earlier linked to 13 deaths involving defective ignition switches. U.S. House and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, whose committee twice has interviewed GM Chief Exec Officer Mary Barra, said of the additional fatalities and recalled reported on Monday that it “confirms our fears that GM’s safety failures were much more widespread than initially reported.”

GM said it will not include the latest fatalities in a compensation fund set up to provide $1 million to crash victims tied to defective switches in older compact cars, including  the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. The compensation fund could cost billions of dollars for GM, however is necessary to repair the company’s image and move beyond the liability claims. The funds administrator, attorney Kenneth Feinberg, does not yet know the number of victims seeking damages or the number of fatalities caused by faulty parts as claims are not yet processed. In addition to paying damages, GM now faces legal problems on a number of fronts including a county district attorney in California who announced on Monday a lawsuit accusing GM of being a threat to public safety by concealing 35 safety defects that promoted the recall of million of vehicles. GM shares on Monday closed at $36.30 down 0.9 percent.

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