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Auto blogFri, 21 Feb 2014 10:15:00 EST
Well, this is not good for General Motors. Following a report last week that GM was recalling 778,000 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compacts over concerns that the ignition could switch out of the "run" position without warning, USA Today reports that the Detroit-based behemoth knew about the issue, which affected 2005 to 2007 Cobalts (the Cobalt shown above and in the gallery is from 2010) and 2007 Pontiac G5s, all the way back in 2004.
The information comes from a deposition in a civil lawsuit against GM, obtained by USA Today, which claims that a GM engineer experienced the issue while the then-new model was undergoing testing. The issue was "solved" when a technical service bulletin was issued in 2005, informing dealers to install a snap-on key cover on the cars of customers who complained about the issue. According to the Cobalt's program engineering manager, Gary Altman, the cover was an "improvement, it was not a fix to the issue."
The case where the depositions were made was from 2010, and involved Brooke Melton, a 29-year-old pediatric nurse in Georgia who was killed on her birthday. At the time, police claimed she was going too fast on a wet, rural road, although it later came out through the black box that her car's ignition had come out of the "run" position at least three seconds before the accident (the max amount of time a black box records before a wreck), disabling her airbags, power steering and anti-lock brakes. According to USA Today, police said Melton was "traveling too fast for the roadway conditions," although it's impossible to know if she'd have been in the wreck, which injured the occupants of another vehicle, had her 2005 Chevy not shut off. GM settled the Melton family's case, although the details remain confidential.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a recall for a number of General Motors cars and crossovers bought or currently registered in the hot-climate states of Arkansas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas. As many as 40,859 units consisting of the 2007 Chevrolet Equinox, Pontiac Torrent and Saturn Ion and the 2007-2009 Chevrolet Cobalt (shown) and its Pontiac G5 twin are being recalled for potential fuel leaks.
This recall is being issued due to potentially faulty fuel pump components that can crack and cause gasoline to leak from the return or supply ports and possibly cause a fire. NHTSA has not indicated how many fuel leaks or vehicle fires have been reported. As a fix, GM will replace the fuel pump modules on all affected vehicles free of charge. Since Pontiac and Saturn have been shuttered, owners will be able to go to another GM-brand dealership to have their vehicles repaired.
While the list of affected cars and crossovers varies by state and model year, if you own any of these models and live in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, Oklahoma or Texas, be sure to check the official notice below for more details.
Following a stop-delivery order for its new midsize trucks and a rash of recent recalls, General Motors is issuing three more campaigns covering 60,575 vehicles in North America with 57,182 of them in the US. As of October 1, the automaker has issued a total of 74 recalls (see the ridiculously long chart to the right) this year covering 26,495,070 units in the US.
The largest campaign covers 46,873 examples in the US of the 2008-2009 Pontiac G8 and 2011-2013 Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle imported from Australia. It's possible for the driver's knee to hit the key and make it move from the "Run" to "ACC" position while driving. GM says its Holden division is developing a fixed-blade key that's supposed to fix the problem by only allowing it to rotate toward the "On" position. There has been one crash caused by this fault but no injuries or fatalities.
The second recall is for 10,005 units of the 2004-2007 Cadillac CTS-V and 2006-2007 Cadillac STS-V because "the fuel pump module electrical terminal may overheat." This can cause a flange to melt and allow the pump to leak fuel. GM specifies that the remedy for the CTS-V is replacing the fuel module and fuel tank jumper harness, but it doesn't specify how the STS-V is being repaired.