General Motors is in hot water over its recall of more than 2.6 million vehicles produced between 2003 and 2011, and the recent media and government attention has generated a fresh flood of complaints about the concerned cars.
The recall includes seven GM models made between 2003 and 2011, which may have faulty ignition switches that can flip out of the “run” position while the car is moving, turning off the engine, cutting some electric power, and disabling the airbags.
Crashes caused by the defect have been connected to 13 deaths.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), responsible for investigating possible safety defects in cars, publishes complaints it receives from consumers.
Looking at records for the GM cars involved in the recall, there’s been a noticeable spike in complaints since the recall started getting widespread attention in February.
In January, the NHTSA published 7 complaints about Chevy Cobalts made between 2005 and 2007. In March, that number jumped to 144. The dates of the detailed incidents go as far back as 2005, and report ignition switch and airbag failure along with other issues.
Chevy HHRs made between 2006 and 2007, also subject to the recall, saw a similar spike: 14 complaints in January, 57 in March.
Here are a few excerpts from complaints submitted in recent weeks:
For a 2005 Cobalt, submitted March 19, date of incident August 18, 2011:
THE CONTACT OWNS A 2005 CHEVROLET COBALT. THE CONTACT STATED WHILE DRIVING APPROXIMATELY 55 MPH, THE VEHICLE STALLED AS THE POWER STEERING WARNING LIGHT ILLUMINATED. THE VEHICLE WAS TAKEN TO THE DEALER WHERE IT WAS DIAGNOSED THAT THE IGNITION SWITCH NEEDED TO BE REPLACED. THE MANUFACTURER WAS NOTIFIED OF THE FAILURE. THE VEHICLE WAS REPAIRED BUT THE FAILURE RECURRED. THE APPROXIMATE FAILURE MILEAGE WAS 31,000 AND THE CURRENT MILEAGE WAS 71,155.
For a 2007 HHR, submitted March 25, date of incident April 29, 2012:
MY FAMILY AND I WERE INVOLVED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON OR AROUND 04/29/12. I WAS DRIVING THE VEHICLE WHEN SUDDENLY I LOST CONTROL OF MY VEHICLE FOR AN UNKNOWN REASON WHICH CAUSED ME TO NOSE DIVE AND ROLLOVER SEVERAL TIMES DOWN INTO AN EMBANKMENT, AND NO AIR BAGS DEPLOYED, WHICH IS SURPRISIING CONSIDERING HOW SEVERE THIS ACCIDENT WAS.
And for a 2006 Saturn ion, submitted March 25, date of incident January 14, 2014:
MY DAUGHTER WAS DRIVING THE CAR HIT A BUMP AND THE CAR SHUT DOWN. IT STARTED BACK UP, DROVE IT HOME AND PARKED IT. GM ISSUED RECALL ON THE IGNITION. I CALLED THE DEALERSHIP AND THEY SAID GM KIND OF JUMPED THE GUN ON THE RECALL AS THE PARTS HAVEN’T BEEN SHIPPED AND TO CALL BACK IN 2 WEEKS. I CALLED AFTER TWO WEEKS AND THEY SAID NO PART TO CALL BACK IN A MONTH. HE SAID THE CAR IS SAFE TO DRIVE BUT ONLY HAVE THE KEY IN THE IGNITION AND NOT ON A CHAIN. WELL THE IGNITION CAN SHUT THE CAR DOWN IF A BUMP IS GONE OVER OR IF THE KEY IS JARRED IN ANY WAY. THE CAR HAS BEEN PARKED SINCE JANUARY.
Meanwhile, lawyers are rushing to find clients to represent for potential lawsuits against the automaker, several of which have already been filed.
GM has not instructed customers to stop driving their cars, saying the recalled vehicles are fine even before new parts are installed, as long as no extra keys or objects are on their keychains. “The GM engineers have done extensive analysis to make sure if you use only the ignition key with no additional items on the key ring, that the vehicle is safe to drive,” the company has told owners.
GM CEO Mary Barra and the acting head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), David Friedman, will testify before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in a hearing today, titled “The GM Ignition Switch Recall: Why Did It Take So Long?”
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