Airbag, Warning System Problems Lead to More GM Recalls
General Motors (GM) is recalling about 90,000 more vehicles for a variety of safety concerns, bringing the total number of cars recalled worldwide so far this year to nearly 16 million.
The GM vehicle recalls were announced on June 6, after the automaker alerted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to the problems the day before.
The largest recall involves 57,512 model year 2014 Chevrolet Silverado LD and GMC Sierra LD trucks, and model year 2015 Silverado HD, Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Sierra HD, Yukon and Yukon XL vehicles. All of those affected cars have a problem with the base radio, which can prevent audible alarms from sounding. This means that there might not be an audible warning when the key is in the ignition and the driver’s door is open, or the vehicle might not give an audible warning that the front seat belt is not buckled. The problem makes the vehicles out of compliance with federal safety regulations, GM admitted.
The second largest recall involves 31,620 model year 2012 Buick Verano, Chevrolet Camaro, Cruze and Sonic compact cars. The affected vehicles may have a problem with the driver’s side air bag which could lead to them not deploying in a crash. The company says it is aware of several crashes involving the vehicles where the air bag did not deploy, and of at least one accident involving an injury. Previously, 7,116 vehicles were recalled for the same problem, the company stated.
GM is also recalling about five dozen 2013-2014 Chevrolet Spark and 2013 Buick Encore vehicles due to air bag problems, as well as 33 Chevrolet Corvettes from the 2014 model year, which may have a short circuit that could disable the front air bags, the safety belt pretensioners and the Automatic Occupancy Sensing module.
The company has stated that it will inform all affected vehicle owners and will conduct repairs free of charge.
Ignition Switch Recall
The staggering number of GM vehicles recalled comes in the wake of an ignition switch recall initiated in February, which has affected 2.5 million Chevrolet, Pontiac and Saturn vehicles.
GM has faced harsh criticism over their handling of the ignition switch problems, which may cause the cars to suddenly shot off if heavy keys are used or if the ignition is jarred, such as may occur in a crash. The defective ignition switches have been shown to cause the vehicles to stall, and may prevent the air bags from deploying in case of an accident.
The automaker has acknowledged that it is aware of 13 deaths related to the problem, but the company and federal investigators say that number is likely to climb.
Last week, the GM released a scathing internal investigation, indicating that the ignition switch defect was known by the automaker since 2002, but various company officials failed to take actions to recall the vehicles or address the problem. The company described the conduct of their employees as a pattern of incompetence, neglect, and engineers not understanding how their own company’s cars worked.
GM has already been fined $35 million by the NHTSA for irregularities in the recall. However, it also faces a growing legal challenge.
The Detroit automaker already faces more than 80 GM ignition switch recall lawsuits filed by various plaintiffs throughout the United States. A growing number of product liability lawyers say that the number of cases could climb significantly in coming months, and that GM’s own internal report could help their clients attain both compensatory and punitive awards from the company.
A panel of federal judges is currently considering whether to consolidate all GM ignition switch recall lawsuits in one court for pretrial proceedings. However, many of the cases involve claims of economic damages, while some are claims of personal injury or wrongful death.
GM has said it plans to fairly compensate injury and death victims, but that it intends to fight claims that the recall lowered the economic value of its vehicles.
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