NHTSA to GM: Have you been hiding something?
U.S. safety regulators are demanding that General Motors turn over reams of documents and other data showing what the company knew, and when, about a dangerous ignition problem that has been linked to 13 car-crash deaths.Now, the ignition trouble is that, apparently, heavy keychains or particularly rough roads could make the ignition fall out of the "Run" position into "Off." This essentially means that steering, brakes, and safety equipment are non-functional - or that you need to put a LOT of muscle into steering and stopping the vehicle. Not something I'd want to deal with at speed.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating how GM handled the problem, which triggered the recall of 1.6 million older-model compact cars worldwide. GM has acknowledged it knew of the ignition troubles a decade ago but didn't recall the cars until last month.
This isn't a new phenomenon, mind you. I had a GMC Jimmy in the 1980s that would stall out if the temperature dropped below 50ºF or you looked at it funny. I rolled into a mail truck once after getting a windshield replaced because as I backed out of the garage, the Jimmy stalled, and while I frantically clawed at the steering wheel and stood--both feet--on the brake pedal, it kept rolling. Fortunately, this was in the days of real steel bumpers and neither vehicle was damaged...
What's scary, though, is that GM knew about the issue and did nothing. This was the GM pre-buyout, and they're claiming that things are different now, but I'd be curious to know how many people were fired over this. If it was non-union execs, I'll bet a few low-level managers lost their jobs, but little else changed. Given that two out of the three brands affected have been phased out, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that they simply shifted people around from brand to brand.
At least those union workers are safe...
That is all.