NastLaw is actively involved in the GM Ignition Switch Recall Lawsuits and is currently investigating cases on behalf of individuals affected by the recall.  We strive to keep our clients and the public informed on the latest developments involving the recall lawsuits – below is a timeline of events involving the ignition switch recall, starting over 10 years ago when engineers at GM first discovered the defect.

2001 – Ignition Switch Problem Detected in Saturn Ion

During pre-production of the Saturn Ion, General Motors engineers detected an issue with the ignition switch, and that a design change would fix the problem.

February 2002 – Production Part Submitted by Supplier Identified as Not Up To Standards

GM’s supplier submitted a pre-production sample of the ignition switch and it was identified that the ignition switch torque was below standards. GM approved the part anyway.

November 2004 – Complaints About Ignition Switch Received 

GM opened an official engineering inquiry to look into complaints that the ignition in Chevrolet Cobalts could be turned off by the driver’s knee while operating the vehicle. Engineer submitted several potential solutions to the problem but all were rejected because of the time and cost associated with making the repairs. More complaints were received about the issue.

July 2005 – First Fatality from the Ignition Switch Defect Reported

A Maryland driver was killed in an accident where the airbag did not deploy. The official accident report noted that the vehicle’s ignition switch was in the “Accessory” position during the crash. A service bulletin was issued to dealers informing them about the potential defect, but no announcement to the public was made.

April 2006 – New Ignition Switch Manufactured for Vehicles

GM officially requested a new ignition switch for the affected vehicles and began installing them in 2007 in new vehicles. However, the new switch was still not to the original manufacturing standards and GM did not document the change with a new part number, suggesting that they may have been trying to cover up the defect.

March 2007 – GM Begins Monitoring Frontal Impact Crashes in Chevrolet Cobalts

After a meeting with the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA), GM began monitoring frontal impact crashes in Chevy Cobalts where airbags did not deploy. 10 such accidents were reported by the end of 2007, and in 4 of these accidents the ignition switch was off at the time of impact. GM also received a full accident report from a fatal crash in 2006 indicating the airbags did not deploy and the ignition switch had turned off prior to impact.

November 2007 – Internal Report Suggests Review of Cobalt and ION Ignition Switches

A presentation was made from the GM Defects Assessment Division that suggested a review of the ignition switches. The recommendation was made based on 4 fatal crashes, 29 complaints, and 14 field reports. GM decided that, despite the report, no further investigation was necessary.

2008-2013 – Numerous More Accidents are Reported, Prompting Further Internal Review at GM

GM continued collecting data from accidents where airbags did not deploy and ordered a test be performed to evaluate ignition switches in the vehicles. It was determined that the ignition switch torque in earlier models was well below GM standards. Further research was ordered by outside engineers who discovered the different ignition switches in vehicles manufactured prior to 2007.

February 13, 2014 – GM Announces Recall for 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts

February 25, 2014 – GM Expands Recall to Include Saturn ION and Solstice, Pontiac Sky and G5, and Chevrolet HHR Models

March 28, 2014 – GM Expands Recall to Include All Model Year Cobalt, HHR, ION, Sky, G5, and Solstice Vehicles