Troubling questions raised over GM’s recall of thousands of previously recalled vehicles


In recent years, the U.S. automaker General Motors has come under fire for its handling of numerous safety recalls. Most notably was the 2014 massive recall of nearly 40 million GM vehicles after it was discovered that they contained a faulty ignition switch which was prone to slip out of the running position, thereby cutting the engine’s power and resulting in a vehicle’s power steering and braking systems being inoperable. The defective auto parts have been cited as causing and contributing to the deaths and injuries of hundreds of vehicle owners and occupants.

Today, the embattled car company is facing new questions about its responsiveness and handling of another recall related to a defective auto part. GM recently announced the recall of some 1.4 million vehicles that are believed to contain faulty engine valve cover gaskets which can result in oil dripping “on the hot exhaust manifold,” and a fire starting in a vehicle’s engine.

While GM documents suggest the defect was first detected as early as 2006, the company didn’t issue a recall of 1.7 million vehicles until 2008 and 2009. At that time, the company’s solution to fixing the defect was to replace “only flammable plastic parts near the manifold.” This approach, according to a GM spokesperson, would not stop a fire, but would effectively remove any flammable materials thereby resulting in any small pilot fire burning out. At least this was what GM argues was supposed to happen.

Instead, in the years since the recall, the engines in some 1,345 allegedly repaired vehicles caught fire. While the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration claims to keep track of motor vehicle-related complaints and should have, based on the 466 related complaints, identified that there was a safety problem; it too failed to take action.

Earlier this month, GM finally admitted that its initial fix wasn’t effective and issued the recall of 1.4 million motor vehicles. For the individuals impacted by the botched recall and GM’s unconscionable actions to save a few dollars, the company has failed to provide answers or just compensation.

Source: USA News & World Report, “Questions raised about General Motors, government action in recall over thousands of car fires,” Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin, Nov. 11, 2015

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