General Motors (GM) emerged from bankruptcy in June of 2009. Since that time, New GM has recalled more automobiles than it has manufactured. GM’s safety-related issues came to light after the company was forced to recall millions of vehicles related to a defective ignition switch that would turn off vehicle engines and airbag systems while the vehicle was in use. Although GM was aware of this safety issue for nearly a decade, the recall did not occur until a single lawsuit filed in Georgia brought the defective ignition switch to light. An internal investigation of New GM revealed a culture of apathy at GM regarding safety issues that existed since Old GM. Since that time, General Motors has continued to recall other vehicles on a regular basis.
One of GM’s most recent recalls involves approximately 1.4 million vehicles. The recall involves the 1997-2004 Buick Regal, 2000-2004 Chevrolet Impala, 1998-1999 Chevrolet Lumina, 1998-2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1998-1999 Oldsmobile Intrigue, and certain 1997-2004 Pontiac Grand Prix vehicles. The safety defect associated with these vehicles can cause an engine to catch fire as a result of hard braking. According to the recall notice, oil can drop onto a hot exhaust manifold, potentially causing engine compartment fires.
What makes this recall so interesting is that it is the third major recall to address this same defect issue. GM has stated that 1,345 fires have been reported in cars previously repaired for this safety defect. While GM claims that the vehicles are safe to drive, GM encourages drivers not to park the vehicles in garages or other structures until repairs can be made in order to avoid the potential of burning down a consumer’s home or other buildings. While some injuries have been reported, GM claims that 85 percent of the reported fires have occurred with no one inside a vehicle. Although GM urges consumers not to park the vehicles in garages, GM has stated that they do not currently have a fix for this defect but are working to finalize a remedy.
GM, as well as other automakers, appears to be experiencing more scrutiny by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) related to unreasonable safety-related risks to consumers as a result of the GM ignition switch debacle. Automakers seem to be more willing to report defects and initiate recalls instead of running the risk of not disclosing safety issues since the GM ignition switch problem occurred. According to autonews.com, in the last two years, automakers, on average, have announced recalls every two or three days. Hopefully, this heightened attention to unsafe automobile defects by the automakers and NHTSA will benefit consumers from a safety perspective in the long run. If you need additional information on this matter, contact any of the lawyers in our firm who are working on the GM litigation: Greg Allen, Cole Portis, Ben Baker, Mike Andrews or Dee Miles at 800-898-2034 or by email at Greg.Allen@beasleyallen.com, Cole.Portis@beasleyallen.com, Ben.Baker@beasleyallen.com, Ben.Baker@beasleyallen.com, Mike.Andrews@beasleyallen.com or Dee.Miles@beasleyallen.com.
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