As we have reported, General Motors kept totally quiet for more than seven years about design flaws that allowed keys in some Chevrolet and Saturn cars to be removed from the ignition while the engine ran. The automaker only told owners about the problem in April of this year. In an April 23 letter sent to NHTSA, the automaker said it has determined that the defect exists in a range of vehicles stretching back to the early and mid-2000s, including Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and Pontiac G5s. GM is recalling those vehicles for repair. GM had previously sent out a technical service bulletin to dealers alerting them to the defect.
GM had notice of the “key pullout” problem in 2005. It opened an internal engineering inquiry into the problem after it was observed in Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles, according to the April letter. That inquiry was closed in 2007 after GM claimed to have fixed the problem by changing the shape of the ignition cylinder in the affected vehicles.
GM said in the letter that it received hundreds of customer complaints about keys pulling out of the ignition while the car was in gear. The vehicles affected by the defect are 2005-10 Chevrolet Cobalts, 2006-11 Chevrolet HHRs, 2007-10 Pontiac G5s, 2006 -10 Pontiac Solstices, 2003-07 Saturn Ions and 2007-10 Saturn Skys.
As a matter of interest, GM’s defective ignition components were made by a Chinese company. According to documents filed with NHTSA on June 20, GM said the components related to the latest recall were manufactured by Dalian Alps Electronics Co. Ltd., based in Dalian, China. Only one of the models included in the latest ignition-related recall is still in production. That is the previous-generation Chevrolet Impala, which is sold to daily rental fleets as the Impala Limited.
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