GM Recalls 778,562 Cars After Defect Proves Fatal

The Toronto Star

February 14, 2014

General Motors Co. is recalling 778,562 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 sedans in North America after six deaths were linked to faulty ignition switches that may have caused engines and air bags to turn off.

Key rings that are too heavy or a "jarring event" can cause the ignition switches to come out of the run position, Detroit-based GM said in a statement Thursday. The engine may then shut off and result in a misfire of a crash-sensing algorithm.

That chain of events "may result in the air bags not deploying, increasing the potential for occupant injury in certain kinds of crashes," GM said in the e-mailed statement. "Until this correction is performed, customers should remove non-essential items from their key ring."

The recall will add to the early tests for chief executive officer Mary Barra, who took the helm of the largest U.S. automaker last month. The recall covers Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 sedans from the 2005 to 2007 model years. A total of 619,122 cars will be covered in the U.S., along with 153,310 in Canada and 6,130 in Mexico.

The fatal crashes occurred off-road and at high speeds, a GM spokesman, Alan Adler, said. Airbags didn't deploy, and the company has concluded that the sensors that activate the safety devices in a crash became impeded.

Failure to wear seat belts and alcohol use also were factors in some of the crashes, Adler said. The company is aware of 17 other crashes involving frontal impact and non-fatal injuries in which air bags didn't deploy, he said.

Dealers will replace ignition switches on affected cars, GM said.

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