TIME Automotive

Congress Pulls GM Over For Failing to Fix Defect

The General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit on Aug. 25, 2009.
The General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit on Aug. 25, 2009. Jeff Kowalsky—Reuters

A House subcommittee investigating the recall of 2.6 million Chevy Cobalts and other cars says GM ignored or dismissed several warnings about the danger of a defective ignition switch for a decade, and that regulators were also asleep at the switch

General Motors in 2005 twice neglected to fix a defect in ignition switches that has forced the company to recall 2.6 million cars and a federal regulator failed to investigate warnings about the defect, a congressional memo said Sunday.

The memo, released by the House subcommittee investigating the case, said that both engineers and the automobile giant’s brand quality division investigated the defect and proposed possible fixes during the spring of 2005. Some solutions were deemed too costly and time consuming to implement, while at least one other was canceled after initially being approved.

The faulty ignition switch, which has caused the Chevrolet Cobalt and other model cars to stall and has disabled the air bags and power steering, has been linked to 13 deaths.

A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee is currently investigating why General Motors didn’t recall the cars before this year, as the company first became aware of the problem in 2001 and was warned that the defect was linked to four fatal crashes in 2007. The company’s CEO Mary Barra will testify before the subcommittee in charge of the investigation on Tuesday and participate in a Senate hearing Wednesday, while an official from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also testifying before lawmakers this week.

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