By Hannah Lutz, Crain News Service
DETROIT (Sept. 9, 2014) — Before recalling more than 200,000 Saturn Vues with ignition problems last month, General Motors Co. discussed the issue with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) three times beginning in mid-June, according to documents revealed Sept. 5.
GM recalled 215,243 Vues—2002 to 2004 models—in early August after receiving reports of vehicle rollaway and ignition key removal when the key is not in the “off” position. GM told dealers to test cars for key pullout or key binding and replace the ignition cylinder or keys if necessary, documents posted on the NHTSA website said. The Detroit News reported the story Sept. 5.
GM knows of 152 vehicles affected by the key-pullout defect, and two crashes and one injury were related to the issue, according to the documents.
The auto maker reviewed the Vue data with NHTSA on three separate occasions, according to the documents. GM and the federal auto-safety agency discussed the on June 17, July 7 and July 24, and GM decided on July 31 to conduct a recall.
GM said it began reviewing key-pullout complaints across its portfolio after issuing an April recall to replace the ignition cylinders on 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small cars. Those are the same vehicles covered by the February ignition-switch recall that began the crisis enveloping the company this year. The switch recall is linked to at least 13 deaths, prompting numerous investigations, congressional probes and class-action litigation. GM said some engineers knew about the defect dating back more than a decade.
After GM recalled the faulty switches, the auto maker found documents from almost 10 years ago, November 2004 and June 2005, noting Cobalt keys falling out when the car was in the “run” position.
The Vue is the only nameplate not covered by the ignition-switch recall that GM has recalled for key-pullout problems.
GM in May agreed to pay a $35 million fine for breaking federal law by not issuing a recall for the Cobalt and Ion ignition switches earlier.
Reporter Nick Bunkley contributed to this report, which appeared on the website of Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.