General Motors' woes multiply as it announces further recalls
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General Motors
General Motors recalled 312,000 cars on Friday. Saturn Vues, above, in the 2002-4 model years may have ignition problems.

By Danielle Ivory
Copyright 2014 New York Times News Service

DETROIT — Defective ignitions continue to plague General Motors, which on Friday recalled more than 312,000 vehicles worldwide, bringing its recall total this year to more than 29 million cars.

Most of the cars recalled were Saturn Vues from the 2002-4 model years, because it is possible to remove their ignition keys while the vehicles are running.

G.M. said it was aware of two crashes and one injury potentially tied to the issue.

G.M.'s ignition-related problems have been a source of increasing trouble. In February, the automaker began to recall 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small cars with defective ignition switches.

G.M. failed for more than a decade to disclose to the public the switches' deadly flaws, which can suddenly cut engine power and disable air bags.

G.M. has recalled almost 16.5 million cars worldwide this year for ignition-related problems.

In the case of the Vue, the ignition cylinder and key set may be replaced under the recall.

Until the cars have been repaired, G.M. said, drivers should make sure their vehicles are in “park” before exiting them.

Drivers had complained to regulators about ignition problems for years.

“Ignition key fell out of lock cylinder while was running,” a driver of a 2004 Vue said on a regulator's website in April 2008. “This is dangerous because if I ever need to shut down the engine and the key were to fall out I'd be in trouble.”

In February 2010, a Vue driver said a car came out of park without the key in the ignition and ran over the driver's 4-year-old son, injuring him.

Also on Friday, the automaker said it was recalling more than 97,000 cars for a variety of other flaws, including problems with seatbelts, door latches, lighting, brakes and bolts that may not be tightened to specification.

In the case of the loose bolts, which affect the 2014 Chevrolet Spark, people should not drive the cars until they are repaired, said Alan Adler, a G.M. spokesman. Towing or flatbed transportation will be paid for by G.M.

Among the other cars recalled Friday were more than 2,000 Chevrolet Aveos and Pontiac G3s for a defect that can cause the brakes to fail — a flaw that also affected the Hyundai Genesis.

A supplier informed both G.M. and Hyundai of the braking problem in 2012.

In response, G.M. issued safety recalls in 67 foreign countries beginning in January of that year to replace braking fluid in some of its cars.

But in the United States, the automaker did not issue a recall, opting instead to notify dealers and customers in November 2012 to replace the brake fluid and fix the module if necessary.

“G.M. did not see this as a safety issue in the U.S., which is why we did not do a safety recall when one was conducted in other countries,” said Adler, who said the automaker had already repaired more than 3,800 cars.

“There were no customer complaints or warranty claims in the U.S. to suggest there was an issue, so we left it to customers to tell us if they had a problem, whereupon we would fix it.”

Like G.M., Hyundai notified dealers of the braking problem, but in March 2013.

The following October, regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the Genesis after consumers complained of braking problems. Hyundai initiated a recall later that month.

On Thursday, the regulators imposed a nearly $17.4 million penalty on Hyundai for failing to report the defect in a timely manner. Regulators did not impose a penalty against G.M.

Other recalls

G.M. is not the only company with ignition trouble.

Volkswagen on Friday recalled more than 18,000 Routan minivans — made by Chrysler — that have ignition switches that can cut off power while the vehicles are in motion, according to a company statement.

Separately, regulators are also investigating a possible fire hazard in about 52,000 Can-Am Spyder motorcycles made by Bombardier Recreational Products from the 2008-14 model years, according to regulatory documents.

The regulators said they opened the investigation based on reports of fires, including one from a police officer in Morgantown, W.Va., on July 20.

The officer “felt heat rising from beneath the vehicle” and then saw flames.

The officer got off the vehicle without being injured but “within seconds the vehicle was fully engulfed and flames caught a yard and two nearby trees on fire.”

Last modified: August 09. 2014 5:54PM
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