General Motors is recalling 778,562 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 sedans in North America due to faulty ignition switches that may have caused engines and air bags to turn off. Six deaths were linked to the issue. According to GM, key rings that are too heavy or a "jarring event" can cause the ignition switches to come out of the run position.
This may cause the engine to shut off, resulting in a misfire of a crash-sensing algorithm. GM said in an e-mailed statement that this chain of events "may result in the air bags not deploying, increasing the potential for occupant injury in certain kinds of crashes." The carmaker said that “until this correction is performed,” customers should remove non-essential items from their key ring.
GM has already stopped producing the vehicles. Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said that more incidents could be reported as more people hear about the Cobalt and G5 recall. "GM has come a long way in vehicle design and quality since those models were produced over seven years ago," Brauer said. "Yet this is another example of how potential engineering flaws from the past can come back to bite an automaker."
The recall covers Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 sedans from the 2005 to 2007 model years for a total of 619,122 cars in the United States, 153,310 in Canada and 6,130 in Mexico. According to spokesman Alan Adler, the fatal crashes occurred off-road and at high speeds.
He said that the airbags failed to deploy, and GM has concluded that the sensors that activate the safety devices in a crash became impeded. Adler remarked that failure to wear seat belts and alcohol use were also factors in some of those crashes, adding that GM is aware of 17 other crashes involving frontal impact and non-fatal injuries in which the air bags failed to deploy.