Vehicles manufactured by General Motors have been in the news recently. The company has recalled millions of vehicles worldwide for defects that have resulted in injuries and deaths. Although the most recent attention has been given to malfunctioning airbags that can injure and kill, there have been other serious issues with GM vehicles, including problems with power brakes, power steering, and other systems controlled by electricity generated by the engine.
As of Feb. 15, 2015, there had been 51 deaths attributed to faulty ignition switches in GM vehicles. Personal injury claims numbered 4,180 at that time. The company recalled 1.6 million vehicles because of the defect, according to a March 2015 story in Consumer Reports.
GM Ignition Switch Problems More Than Mechanical
Claims made against General Motors because of faulty ignition switches involved the 51 fatalities and at least 300 cases of paraplegia and quadriplegia, brain damage, and burns. Other claims were for less serious injuries. However, problems revealed by the recall are not limited to the ignition switch defect that caused vehicles to stop without warning.
In addition to decrying the mechanical failure itself, consumer advocates have blasted the company for its slow response to the problem. According to Consumer Reports, investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and reports from other sources show that GM might have known about the ignition switch problem for a decade without correcting it.
Other Recent GM Recalls
The ignition switch recall is the most recent high-profile GM auto recall, but the automaker has been forced to recall many other vehicles. According to the company recall list on its website, GM vehicles have many more problems. Here are some that resulted in recalls during 2014:
· GMC Acadia for seat belt, wiring, tires
· GMC Canyon for problems with seats and hoods that could unexpectedly pop open
· Chevrolet and GMC vehicles fueled by natural gas that leaked gas and because the vehicles did not meet the head impact standards for unrestrained passengers
· Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups for steering problems, power steering problems, air bag problems, fire hazards, and rollaway risk
· GM vehicles with Takata seat belts that could fail
· Cadillac vehicles for brake and fuel pump problems
· Chevrolet, Saturn and Pontiac models with faulty power steering.
Past GM Recalls
The recalls above are just a few of the 84 listed for 2014 alone. Over the years, GM has recalled many other vehicles, including:
· 1969: Chevrolet models that could allow exhaust gas into the passenger compartment
· 1971: Many Chevrolet models that experienced sudden acceleration because of broken motor mounts
· 1973: Buicks, Chevrolets, Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles because of an opening in the steering column that would allow stones to interfere with the ability to turn left
· 1977: Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Buick models for possible failure of power brakes
· 1981: Buicks, Chevrolets and Pontiacs for control bolts that could fracture
· 1984: Buicks, Chevrolets, Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles for rear axles that could disengage
· 2004: Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks for tailgate support cables that could fracture
It’s not just GM cars that have hit the road with defects. One in five cars in the United States was recalled in 2014, according to a story in CNN Money. And some of the biggest recalls in automotive history did not involve General Motors vehicles at all. Remember the Ford Pinto and Bridgestone tires on Ford SUVs? Even Toyota, long touted as a shining example of car safety, has had its vehicles recalled.
Safety organizations urge vehicle owners to find out whether their cars and trucks have been recalled. Edmunds.com lists recalls. You can also look up individual vehicles by VIN number at safercar.gov to see whether your car has been recalled.