General Motors (GM) has announced a new round of recalls to conclude the year, the biggest of which is for more than 83,000 sport-utility vehicles and pickups equipped with defective ignition switches.
In a statement posted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), GM says the ignition lock actuator in the affected vehicles were too large, causing them to potentially bind during hot weather conditions and cause engine shutdown, while preventing proper airbag deployment in the event of a collision.
"The ignition lock actuator may bind, making turning the key difficult or causing the ignition to get stuck in the 'Start' position," says GM. "If stuck in the 'Start' position, the ignition may suddenly snap back into the 'Accessory' position, causing a loss of engine, steering and braking power, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash. If the vehicle is in a crash, the airbags may not deploy, increasing the risk of occupant injury."
The problem was first brought to light as early as June when GM's service group technical bulletin proposing a review of 2010-2013 full-size trucks where the ignition cylinder could get stuck in "Start" position. The review found out that high temperatures caused the ignition lock actuator to expand and get stuck in the housing in the "Start" position.
GM spokesperson Alan Adler tells the Detroit News that the automaker is not aware of any deaths or injuries associated with the faulty ignition switches. He also says that GM believes approximately 500 of the affected vehicles have the problem.
The vehicles slated for recall are the 2011-2012 models for the Cadillac Escalade and its ESV and EXT versions, heavy-duty and light-duty Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche, Suburban and Tahoe, heavy-duty and light-duty GMC Sierra, and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. Vehicles made from 2007 to 2014 but brought in for repairs could also be eligible for recall.
The recall is for vehicles located in the United States. Some 9,000 trucks, exported to other countries including Canada and Mexico, are also being recalled.
GM says it will replace the faulty ignition switches for free but did not offer a timetable for the fixes.
The other two recalls are smaller. One involves a problem with an improperly heated rear axle shaft in 152 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 built in November. GM says the rear axle shaft may crack while the vehicle is in motion, increasing the risk of crashing and injuries.
The other recall is for 52 heavy-duty 2015 Chevrolet Silverado trucks and GMC Sierras built in October. The problem is for an improperly tightened fuel tank vent line that may detach, causing a fuel leak and increasing the risk of a fire.
GM has recalled 26.95 million vehicles in the United States, with a worldwide total of 30.43 million vehicles. Majority of its recalls were due to faulty ignition switches found in its Chevrolet Cobalt, Saturn Ion and other smaller cars, a problem that has caused at least 42 deaths, more than 2,200 claims of injury and a $35 million fine from the NHTSA. GM is also under investigation by federal authorities for its slow response to its ignition switch problems.