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Another 3 million GM cars recalled

by New York Times News Service on June 17, 2014 10:35 AM

General Motors said Monday that it would recall 3.36 million defective cars worldwide, another low point in the seemingly endless safety crisis that has engulfed the nation’s largest automaker.

Once again, the problem had to do with keys that could suddenly turn off engines and deactivate air bags — a problem similar to the deadly defect that GM failed to address for more than a decade before it began recalling 2.6 million small cars in February. GM has linked at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes to that defect.

The announcement came two days before Mary T. Barra, GM’s chief executive, is scheduled to appear before a House subcommittee investigating the small-car defect.

Lawmakers are eager to question Barra about how GM will change its corporate culture in the aftermath of the initial recall and an internal investigation. But Monday’s announcement is likely to produce another round of sharp questions like those Barra faced in April.

“This latest recall raises even more questions about just how pervasive safety problems are at GM,” said the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Fred Upton, R-Mich. “This is not just a Cobalt problem. Drivers and their families need to be assured that their cars are safe to drive.”

In its announcement Monday, GM said it would revamp or replace ignition keys on seven models because of a faulty key design that has been used for years.

The company said keys laden with extra weight — such as additional keys or objects attached to a key ring — could inadvertently switch the vehicle’s engine off if the car struck a pothole or crossed railroad tracks.

GM said it was aware of eight accidents and six injuries related to the defect.

Alan Adler, a GM spokesman, said the vehicles recalled Monday had different ignition switches and systems from those in the recalled Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions.

The vehicles covered include the Buick Lacrosse, model years 2005-09; Chevrolet Impala, 2006-14; Cadillac Deville, 2000-05; Cadillac DTS, 2004-11; Buick Lucerne, 2006-11; Buick Regal LS and RS, 2004-05; and Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 2006-08.

The Chevrolet Impala is the only model still in production and is sold to daily rental fleets as the Impala Limited. To fix the problem, the company said, it will add an insert that covers slots on the ignition key. The insert instead substitutes a hole at the end of the key.

In the Cobalt’s case, GM is putting in entirely new ignition systems.

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