DETROIT – General Motors (GM) says it needs to change or replace the keys for about 3.4 million cars because they could cause the ignition switch to move out of position if they’re carrying too much weight.
GM said in a statement on Monday that the switches could rotate out of “run” if the key has excess weight and the car “experiences some jarring event,” such as hitting a pothole or crossing a railroad track. That can shut off the engines and disable power steering, causing drivers to lose control. Also, the air bags won’t work. The recall affects seven cars with model years ranging from 2000 to 2014.
GM is already recalling 2.6 million older small cars, mostly in the U.S., for a similar problem where the ignition switch slips out of “run” and causes an engine stall. In that case, the problem is with the mechanics of the switch. In this latest recall, GM says the problem is with the design of the key.
GM began reviewing ignition switches across its line-up after initiating the earlier recall. GM links that switch problem to 13 deaths. GM says it knows of eight crashes and six injuries tied to the latest ignition switch recall.
The company raised its expected second-quarter charge for recall expenses to $700 million from $400 million.
The latest recall includes these cars and model years:
- Buick Lacrosse, 2005-2009
- Chevrolet Impala, 2006-2014
- Cadillac Deville, 2000-2005
- Cadillac DTS, 2004-2011
- Buick Lucerne, 2006-2011
- Buick Regal LS & GS, 2004-2005
- Chevy Monte Carlo, 2006-2008
The only car that’s still in production with the defect is a model of Chevrolet Impala used in rental fleets.
GM says dealers will add an insert to the car keys to change the hole from a slot to a circle. The company says that until the repairs are made, owners should remove everything from their keychains and drive with only the key in the ignition.
GM also is recalling 166,000 other cars for a series of other problems.
The recalls announced Monday bring to 44 the total number of GM recalls this year, covering 17.73 million vehicles in the U.S. and more than 20 million worldwide. The company has surpassed its old U.S. full-year recall record of 10.75 million vehicles set in 2004.
More than four months after General Motors began recalling 2.6 million small cars to fix ignition switches, the company has repaired only 7 percent of the vehicles. Through Thursday, GM had repaired almost 177,000 of the cars and shipped about 423,000 parts kits to dealers worldwide.
GM said the earlier recall caused at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths, but trial lawyers suing GM say the death toll is more than 60. GM has acknowledged knowing about the problem for more than a decade, yet the cars weren’t recalled until this year.
GM CEO Mary Barra will testify in front of a House subcommittee about the matter for a second time on Wednesday.