Vehicle recalls continue after record year
Riddled with recalls, 2014 was a historic year for the auto industry. General Motors began the year with a massive ignition switch recall and Takata ended it with an airbag issue crossing 10 different automakers. When looking at the largest recalls in history, GM and Takata take the fourth and sixth spot, respectively.
The repercussions of the almost 64 million vehicles recalled last year still reverberate throughout the industry and consumers alike. GM’s compensation fund, which closed at the end of January, is still processing the claims. Every Monday, the attorney in charge, Kenneth Feinberg, releases updated numbers based on his progress. As of Monday, March 9, 64 death claims had been approved, up seven from the week prior and almost five times more than GM originally reported.
GM’s ignition switch defect allows the key to slip from the “on” position to “off” or “accessory,” shutting the vehicle down and eliminating power steering and airbags. For more than 10 years, GM knew about this issue and heard reports of accidents and deaths, yet chose to do nothing. More than 4,300 claims were submitted about accidents caused by the defect with more than 1,500 left to review.
Because of GM’s negligence, at least 64 people died and hundreds were injured due to faulty detent plungers in the ignition switch.
Similar to GM, Fiat Chrysler is now experiencing ignition switch problems with a second recall issued for 703,000 minivans. Prior to this, the automaker attempted to fix the issue that allowed the key to rotate out of position and stall by adding a trim ring to stop rotation, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded it wasn’t an effective solution.
Owners of the recalled Fiat Chrysler vehicles attempted to get the defect fixed prior to the recall, but dealers turned them away. Now, after 24 consumer complaints and one accident, the company is replacing the wireless ignition module in all recalled vehicles.
Recently, GM announced a new recall of 1,733 model year 2015 Chevrolet Cruzes due to a braking issue. During the assembly process, the left- or right-rear brake cable brackets were not fastened properly in all vehicles. This may cause the bolts to loosen and the parking brake bracket to separate, causing potential vehicle roll aways and accidents. The fix is the dealership inspecting the brake bracket bolts and tightening them, if necessary.
Takata, one of the world’s largest auto parts suppliers, continues to have issues with its air bags. Although ammonium nitrate, the propellant chemical used to deploy the air bag, is assumed by experts to be the cause for the deadly explosions, the company continues to use it. The NHTSA recently announced a daily fine against Takata for its lack of progress in resolving this fatal defect, which killed someone as recently as early 2015.
As consumers, we expect our vehicles to function as promised and when an error occurs, the automaker to respond swiftly and responsibly to correct the issues. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If you or someone you loved was affected by the massive GM ignition switch and Takata air bag recalls, contact us immediately.
- Automotive News, “Fiat Chrysler joins GM in grappling with troubled ignition switches,” (March 9, 2015). [Link]
- Greg Gardner, “GM ignition switch deaths rise to 64,” USA Today (March 9, 2015). [Link]
- James R. Healey, “Feds: huge auto recalls mark 2014,” USA Today (March 3, 2015). [Link]
- James Limbach, “GM recalls Chevrolet Cruze vehicles with braking issue,” Consumer Affairs (March 10, 2015). [Link]