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GM Under Fire for Faulty Chevy Cobalt Ignitions

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GM in the Hotseat for Recent Discoveries Over Chevy Cobalt

GM is under increasing fire for problems related to the ignition in Chevy Cobalts.  The problem was with the ignition switch in its 2005 model that could inadvertently turn off the engine while driving, including the driver’s ability to utilize the anti-lock brake system, power steering and the airbags.  Although a recall was issued last Thursday, it appears to be too little too late considering recent depositions have revealed that GM knew about the problem for at least a decade and of six deaths related to the problem in Cobalts.

GM Attempted to Slap a “Band-Aid” on the Problem

According to recently obtained documents by USA Today, at least one Chevy engineer knew about the problem but allowed the 2005 model to go onto the market in 2004.  In an attempt to remedy the problem, Chevy created a snap-on key cover and advised Chevy dealers in a service bulletin to install the parts only if customers complained.  Unfortunately, 29-year-old nurse Brooke Melton never complained but died in a crash in 2010 on her birthday in her 2005 Chevy Cobalt.  GM settled that lawsuit with her estate, but will not comment on the terms of the agreement because of an ongoing dealer lawsuit.

Chevy Didn’t Instruct Dealers to Warn Consumers of Ignition Issue

Melton died on a rainy day in Georgia while driving approximately 58 mph at night time to her boyfriend’s house.  Although police say she was going “too fast” for the roadway conditions, black box recordings provided evidence that her ignition failed, she lost control of the car, and was struck on the passenger side by another car.  Melton also took her vehicle into the Chevy dealer the day prior to her accident about ignition issues.  According to documents, although Chevy issued a service bulletin to dealers, it did not instruct dealers to install the ignition switch covers on Cobalts in stock at the dealership, nor did they advise dealers to warn consumers of the ignition problem prior to purchase.

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    […] The other day I wrote about a recent recall of 2005 Chevy Malibus because of faulty ignitions that could lead to a total breakdown of a car’s system in an emergency situation. Unfortunately, it appears GM waited to issue the recall until now even though they knew about the problems since 2001. Now, safety agencies are conducting their own investigation of the affected vehicles and have discovered that at least 303 deaths are attributable to the ignition issue and subsequent failure of the airbags to deploy in a car crash. […]