General Motors Company has accepted responsibility and issued two public apologies for faulty ignition that have been linked to 13 deaths switches, but hasn’t yet said how soon the 1.6 million vehicles involved in their recall will be fixed.
According to the automaker, replacement switches for models dating back to 2003 are being sent to dealers. When suddenly jarred, the defective switches can suddenly shut down a vehicle’s engine and disable the protective air bag system.
Earlier this week GM informed the NHTSA that it became aware of the problem in 2004. The agency has launched a “timeliness query,” and GM could face up to a $35 million fine if it is determined that it did not initiate a recall in a timely manner after discovering the problem.
Last month GM announced the recall of some Pontiac G5s and Chevrolet Cobalts. Earlier this week the recall was expanded to include some HHR, Solstice and Saturn models.
In a statement released on Thursday GM said, “We deeply regret the events that led to the recall and this investigation. We intend to fully cooperate with NHTSA and we welcome the opportunity to help the agency have a full understanding of the facts.”
Owners of vehicles included in the recall will begin receiving recall notifications as early as March 10. A second correspondence will instruct owners about how to schedule an appointment with their local dealer to have their ignition switches replaced. GM says it expects dealers to begin receiving the replacement switches in early April.
GM spokesman Alan Adler said the replacement switches must undergo testing prior to being shipped to dealers, and there has been no announcement concerning how soon the repairs will actually begin.
Alder said, “We won’t be playing favorites here and conducting a recall in phases. Once customers get that second letter they can schedule an appointment and go in for the repair.” The replacement switches are being manufactured by Delphi Automotive – the same company that manufactured the defective switches.
Model-years 2005 to 2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and 2007 Pontiac G5s were included in the initial recall. Model-years 2006 to 2007 Saturn Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac Solstices and Saturn Skys, and model-years 2003 to 2007 Saturn Ions have been added to the list of recalled models.
Of the 1.6 million vehicles involved in the recall, 1.3 million were sold in the U.S.