In the latest expansion of General Motors’ safety crisis, the automaker said Monday that it was recalling 3.36 million cars worldwide because they might suddenly switch off if their keys are carrying extra weight and the vehicles experience a “jarring event,” like hitting a pothole or crossing railroad tracks.
The problem bears a striking similarity to a deadly defect that GM failed to correct for more than a decade and has linked to at least 13 fatalities and 54 crashes. In February, the automaker started recalling 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small cars, saying that if their keys were bumped or jostled, their engines could turn off, disabling critical systems like steering, brakes and air bags.
GM said it was aware of eight crashes and six injuries tied to the problem involved in the latest recall.
The news followed a separate report Monday in which GM said it had repaired only 7 percent of the original 2.6 million recalled products. GM says fixes have been delayed as switch maker Delphi starts making the part for cars that are no longer being produced. Through Thursday, GM had repaired almost 177,000 cars and shipped about 423,000 parts kits to dealers worldwide
For Monday’s recall, GM will add an insert to the slotted keys of the recalled vehicles, leaving a 4-by-6-millimeter hole through which the key ring may be attached.
Similarly, in 2006, the automaker sent dealers a technical service bulletin - a notice that is not supposed to be used to fix safety problems - offering a key insert for the Cobalt that would “result in keys not hanging as low as in the past.”
Dealers were also informed to advise customers to remove unessential items from their key chains.
The vehicles being recalled include some of GM’s most popular sedans: the 2006-14 Chevrolet Impala and the 2006-08 Monte Carlo, the 2005-09 Buick Lacrosse, the 2006-11 Lucerne, the 2004-05 Regal LS and GS, the 2000-05 Cadillac Deville and the 2004-11 Cadillac DTS.
The Chevrolet Impala is the only model still in production and is sold to daily rental fleets as the Impala Limited.
Monday’s recall follows another recall last week of more than half a million Chevrolet Camaros because its keys could turn if bumped by a driver’s knee.