GM Recall Reaches a Total of 4.8 Million Vehicles this Year Alone

Saturday morning, General Motors announced that it was recalling 490,000 trucks and 172,000 compact cars in the U.S., making the total GM recall about 4.8 million vehicles in the first three months of 2014 alone. This is about six times the number of vehicles it recalled in the entire 2013.

This recall expansion involves many of GM’s most popular models.

Saturday’s recall covers the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups, as well as the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL with six-speed automatic transmissions. GM said a loose fitting for the transmission’s oil cooler line could allow oil leaks and possibly lead to fires. The automaker said it was aware of three fires but no injuries linked to the defect. Officials decided to recall the vehicles within one week of learning about the problem, GM spokesman, Alan Adler said.

The compact cars being recalled are the 2013-14 Cruze models with 1.4 liter four-cylinder engines. GM said the right-front axle half-shaft could break, cutting power to the front wheels, although the engine would continue to run and the steering and brakes would still function. The company said it was aware of several dozen episodes but was not aware of any crashes or injuries related to this problem.

GM was off to a good start this year, hiring a new chief executive, Mary Barra, the first woman to become the head of a major automaker as it emerged from bankruptcy. GM introduced a series of vehicles, including the Cadillac CTS and the Chevrolet Silverado.

Just weeks later, GM announced seven major recalls, the most prominent being the defective ignition switches on the company’s compact cars, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, linked to 13 deaths. GM expanded the recall Friday, adding about 971,000 compact cars from later model years, including approximately 824,000 in the U.S.  GM said that the wider recall was necessary to locate about 90,000 defective ignition switches installed as replacement parts on the newer vehicles.

Currently, the expanded recall includes six models:  2005-2010 Cobalts, 2006-2010 Pontiac Soltices, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5’s and Saturn Sky’ s, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR’s and 2003-2007 Saturn Ions.

GM has recalled about 2.5 million of its small cars, including 2.2 million in the U.S. The automaker has acknowledged that it knew about the defective ignition switches for more than a decade, but did not recall the vehicles. That has prompted governmental investigations, including a congressional inquiry, which will begin on Tuesday with Ms. Barra scheduled to testify.

On Friday, GM did acknowledge that theywere aware of a 13th death related to the faulty ignition switches. It said the crash involved a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and occurred in Quebec, Canada.

GM recalled about 758,000 vehicles in the U.S. in 2013, ninth among automakers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Toyota was first with about 5.3 million vehicles, followed by Chrysler with 4.7 million and Honda with close to 2.8 million vehicles.

According to a memo released by House investigators Sunday, federal safety regulators decided not to initiate a formal investigation of problems with the ignition switches, despite the fact that an investigative group reported that GM knew about 29 complaints, four fatal crashes and 14 field reports showing the problem was preventing air bags from deploying.

On Tuesday, a House subcommittee will open hearings as to why government investigators never realized there was a generic problem with the ignition systems of Cobalts and other vehicles that could switch off if the key ring was heavy or even bumped, shutting the engine and disabling the air bags.

After reviewing 6,000 pages of documents submitted by the NHTSA’s response to a request by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, it was confirmed that findings relating to complaints and crashes appeared in a PowerPoint present back on November 17, 2007.

The Committee also revealed on Sunday that Delphi (manufacturer of the ignition switch) told GM in February 2002, even before the first vehicle to use the switch ever hit the road, that the part did not meet GM’s specifications.

GM had knowledge of the defects associated with the ignition switches for more than a decade and must be held accountable for their negligence.

The hearing will be held by the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee.  We will report information as it becomes available.

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