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Here’s How It Went Down: A GM Defective Switch Timeline

Monday, March 20, 2017By Richard Alexander

The story of GM’s defective ignition switches is one of neglect and poor judgment. The ignition switch problem caused the switches to turn from "on" to "accessory" while the car was in operation. This would cause affected cars to turn off, disabling power steering and power brakes. Worse yet, because the engine was off, the airbags wouldn’t deploy.

The defect was first noticed during testing of the Saturn Ion in 2001. Although it was declared fixed, reports of problems continued to filter in. In 2004, GM saw the defect come up again as it tested the Chevy Cobalt, but it was disregarded. In 2005, a fix for the problem was proposed but rejected over concerns of time and cost.

This defect continued to plague GM’s cars and cause crashes, injuries, and even deaths. The first recorded death from the ignition switch problem occurred in 2005, when a 16-year-old was killed in a collision with a tree. Because of the engine's shutdown, the Chevy Cobalt's airbags did not deploy.

GM seemingly made a conscious decision to put these cars on the market even though engineers had recommended fixing the switches. GM actually acknowledged that the ignition switch problem had caused at least 31 crashes and 13 deaths by the end of 2013.

The cars were in production and no announcement or recall was made until 2014, when Mary Barra took over as CEO of GM. The fact that GM constantly declined fixes indicates that it valued streamlining production and profits over the safety of its customers and the travelling public. The problem should have been reported and fixed much sooner, but it apparently took a change in management to get it done.

No one wants to be in a car crash no matter what the cause. Unfortunately, accidents sometimes occur. If you need the advice of an experienced accident lawyer, contact the San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP right away at 888.777.1776. Call today, as delay may harm your case.

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