GM offers loaners, $500 allowances to recalled-car ownersPublished: 3/13/14 @ 12:00
General Motors is offering free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle to more than a million owners of compact cars that are being recalled for a deadly ignition-switch defect.
But the owners have to ask in order to get the benefits.
The offers, disclosed in a document posted Wednesday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website, are effective immediately. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. They are expected around April 7, GM said.
The $500 cash-allowance offer runs through April 30.
GM last month announced the recall of 1.6 million older small cars worldwide because faulty ignitions can shut off engines unexpectedly. If the engines shut off, drivers can lose power steering and power brakes, and the air bags may not inflate if there’s a crash.
GM now counts 12 people as having died in crashes linked to the problem. The company said Wednesday that one victim had been double-counted.
GM is facing a Department of Justice investigation, as well as investigations from two congressional committees and federal safety regulators over its handling of the recall. The company has admitted that it knew about the problem a decade ago.
Committees in the House and Senate also want to know why the government’s road-safety watchdog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, didn’t take action sooner.
On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of more than 780,000 Cobalts and Pontiac G5s (model years 2005-2007). Two weeks later, it added 842,000 Saturn Ion compacts (2003-2007), and Chevrolet HHR SUVs and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky sports cars (2006-2007).
In a separate document released Wednesday night, GM tried to explain why the Ion, HHR, Solstice and Sky weren’t included in the Feb. 13 recall, even though they have the same ignition switches as the Cobalt and G5. Engineers examining the four models in 2011 inexplicably did not look at crash data for the 2004 Ion. But early this year, another inquiry found four crashes involving 2004 Ions in which four people were killed. Air bags did not inflate in those crashes.
GM spokesman Greg Martin said he could not comment on why the 2004 Ion crashes were excluded from the 2011 inquiry. In a statement, he said GM decided to do a more in-depth analysis of the four additional models after the Cobalt and G5 recall.
The exclusion of the fatal crashes almost certainly will be examined by prosecutors and congressional committees investigating the recalls.