Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published May 7, 2014 at 2:44 PM | Page modified May 8, 2014 at 3:29 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Government says no need to park recalled GM cars

There's no need to tell owners of recalled General Motors small cars to stop driving them, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.


AP Auto Writer

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
Great recommendation, Anthony Foxx. Should we use bubble gum and duct tape to help hold the key in place so it doesn't... MORE

advertising

DETROIT —

There's no need to tell owners of recalled General Motors small cars to stop driving them, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

In a written response to two senators who asked for such an order, Foxx said engineers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have determined it's not necessary.

GM is recalling 2.6 million small cars worldwide to replace ignition switches that suddenly can slip out of the run position and shut off the engine. That can knock out power-assisted steering and cause drivers to lose control and crash. It also disables the air bags. GM says at least 13 people have died in crashes linked to the problem. The company has admitted knowing about the problem for at least a decade, yet failing to recall the cars until this year.

The company has told owners to remove everything from their key chains, and the reduced weight will stop the switches from slipping into the "accessory" or "off" positions.

Foxx, responding to a letter from Democratic Sens. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, said NHTSA engineers have examined the geometry and physics of the key, ignition switch and steering column of the GM vehicles, and they have reviewed GM's testing data.

"NHTSA is satisfied that for now, until the permanent remedy is applied, the safety risk posed by the defect in affected vehicles is sufficiently mitigated by GM's recommended action," the letter says.

The safety agency, which is part of Foxx's department, has taken measures above and beyond normal procedures in the GM case, Foxx wrote.

The recalled cars include mainly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions that are no longer being made. GM is in the process of shipping parts to dealers but has said it won't be done with that until October. The company is offering loaner cars to any owners with safety concerns and so far has provided about 45,000.

But Blumenthal and Markey disagree and say all the cars should be parked until the switches are replaced.

"We remain extremely concerned that GM and NHTSA are not doing enough to convey the seriousness of this defect to owners of the affected cars, unnecessarily putting more lives at risk," the senators said in a statement Wednesday.

They also questioned why GM's initial recall notice to car owners said the ignition switches could malfunction while driving over rough terrain "regardless of additional weight on the key ring."

Both senators are members of a subcommittee that is looking into GM's actions involving the switches. NHTSA and the Justice Department are also investigating, and criminal charges are possible.

GM has said it has done 80 different tests at high speeds and on rough roads, and that with just the key in the ignition, the switches don't move out of the run position.



Want unlimited access to seattletimes.com? Subscribe now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Seattle Sketcher Book

Seattle Sketcher Book

Take home the Seattle Sketcher's latest book! Available now.

Advertising

Advertising

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

5 tips for fighting job burnout


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►