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General Motors (GM) is recalling more than 200,000 Saturn VUE vehicles, due to problems with the ignition that may allow the key to come out while the vehicle is still running.
The Saturn VUE recall was announced on August 8, impacting vehicles from the 2002 through 2004 model year.
According to GM, the ignition key can be removed when the vehicle is not in the off position, which may have caused at least two auto accidents and one injury.
The recall is the latest in a series of more than 60 GM recalls issued this year, which have affected about 30 million vehicles, nearly half of which involved various ignition switch problems.
The company’s problems began in the early part of the year, when the NHTSA’s investigation into 13 deaths of drivers whose air bags did not deploy was concluded to be from faulty ignition switches in roughly 2.6 million GM vehicles.
GM had reportedly known about the ignition switch issue for more than a decade before issuing the ignition switch recall, which prompted a $35 million fine from the NHTA for delaying a recall. In addition to the government fines and penalties, the company has established a victims compensation fund created for owners and passengers who were injured or killed in some of those vehicles.
The Saturn VUE recall affects 202,115 vehicles, with owners being advised to make sure the vehicle is in “Park” or, in the case of a manual transmission, to put the vehicle into reverse gear and set the parking brake before removing the key and getting out.
The recall was the largest of several announced on August 8. The second-largest affects 48,059 2013 Cadillac ATS four-door sedans and 2013 Buick Encore vehicles that may have seatbelt problems which can lead to the seatbelts not properly preventing movement during an accident. The company discovered the problem during testing and has issued a stop sale order. There are no reports of crashes or injuries associated with the defective seatbelts.
Another 14,940 Chevrolet Impala LT and LTZ model sedans from the 2014 and 2015 model years reportedly have defective console storage compartment latches, which may cause them to spring open during a rear collision. GM also recalled 1,968 Chevrolet Aveo vehicles from 2009-2010, and Pontiac G3 vehicles from 2009, due to brake fluid problems that could affect braking performance, and 1,919 Chevrolet Spark vehicles from 2014 for left and right lower control arm bolts that may not be properly tightened.
Ignition Switch Lawsuits
A growing number of GM ignition switch lawsuits are being filed by owners, investors and those who have been injured in accidents, despite the company’s victim compensation fund. The lawsuits include claims by those who say they were economically damaged by the company’s actions, and those who were injured or lost loved ones in recalled vehicles not included in the compensation fund.
In early June, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order consolidating all economic lawsuits against GM under U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman in federal court in New York for pretrial proceedings. The next scheduled conference is set for August 11, at which time Furman may select attorneys for leadership roles in the litigation.
Late last month, a product liability lawsuit was filed on behalf of families of 29 people who died in accidents linked to ignition switch defects, as well as for more than 600 people who were injured. All of the claims come from among the 17 million vehicles that GM has recalled for ignition switch problems, but for which it has refused to offer compensation.