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GM recalls 3.4 million vehicles for ignition defect

DETROIT — General Motors' ignition switch crisis deepened Monday as the company ordered a recall for 3.4 million more vehicles plagued by a similar defect that has spawned a slew of government investigations, fines and lawsuits.

The automaker is recalling vehicles ranging from the 2000 to 2014 model years — most of which are out of production — after discovering that the ignition switches could flip off inadvertently due to a "jarring event" such as a pot hole.

The problem bears a striking similarity to a deadly defect that GM failed to correct for more than a decade and has linked to at least 13 fatalities and 54 crashes.

In February, the automaker started recalling 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small cars, saying that if their keys were bumped or jostled, their engines could turn off, disabling critical systems like steering, brakes and airbags.

The company said it now expects to record a $700 million second-quarter charge related to the cost of recalls, up from a previously expected $400 million.

Taken together, GM has now recalled about 6 million vehicles globally for potential ignition switch defects.

GM spokesman Alan Adler confirmed in an email that ignition switch engineer Ray DeGiorgio — who was recently fired after investigators concluded that he played a key role in hiding a deadly defect in the other vehicles — was the "release engineer" for the ignition switches on the newly recalled cars.

The new recall places additional scrutiny on the quality of GM's older vehicles and extends GM's single-year record for recalls.

It also comes as GM CEO Mary Barra is expected to testify Wednesday before a U.S. House committee over an internal ignition switch investigation conducted by former U.S. prosecutor Anton Valukas, who will also testify.

The vehicles affected by the new recall are the 2005-09 Buick LaCrosse, 2006-13 Chevrolet Impala, 2014 Impala for rental car companies (but not for retail consumers), 2000-05 Cadillac Deville, 2004-11 Cadillac DTS, 2006-11 Buick Lucerne, the 2004-05 Buick Regal LS and GS, and the 2006-08 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

GM said it would add an insert to keys or replace keys entirely to fix the defect, which can cause the ignition switches to bump into the "accessory" or "off" position, thus cutting off power steering, power braking and potentially air bags.

The company will start offering the fix within a few weeks.

"The best way to assure safety in these vehicles until the key is reworked or replaced is to drive with the ignition key alone," Adler said.

Repair delays

More than four months after General Motors began recalling 2.6 million small cars to fix ignition switches, the company has repaired only 7 percent of the vehicles. Through Thursday, GM had repaired about 177,000 of the cars and shipped about 423,000 parts kits to dealers worldwide. GM says the repairs have been delayed as Delphi, the switch maker, ramps up production of a part for cars that the company is no longer making. Initially, Delphi had only one assembly line building replacement switches, which slowed parts distribution. Now the company has two lines running, and GM expects a third to be operational in late July or early August.

GM recalls 3.4 million vehicles for ignition defect 06/16/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2014 8:22pm]
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