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GM recalling 778,000 cars with dangerous faulty ignitions

The failure of airbags to deploy during fatal car accidents was one factor behind a recall General Motors announced this week, which involves a dangerous problem with the ignition switch on three-quarters of a million cars manufactured over a three-year period. The ignition switch on 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles is defective and when bumped or jarred can effectively turn the engine off, causing the car to stall.

The loss of power can also affect the power steering and brakes, making the vehicle difficult to control. To date, there have been six fatal crashes involving cars equipped with the defective switch. 

The ignition switches appear to be a poorly designed product and GM has said that they may have failed to meet their design specifications.

The use of a heavy key ring or the ignition switch being jarred can turn the mechanism to the "accessory" or "off" position, which can lead to a loss of control due to the brakes and steering losing their power assist. It may also cause the airbag to fail to deploy during a crash.

One analyst noted that new reports of accidents and crashes involving the recalled car may come to light now that there a recall.

Because these cars are older, many of them will have entered the secondary used car market and may be in the hands of people other than the original purchaser, which may make it more difficult for GM to locate and repair the vehicles.

If you buy a used car, you should always check for any recalls or other issues involving the vehicle before purchasing.

Source: USA Today, "6 killed in GM cars with faulty ignition switches," James R. Healey, February 13, 2104 

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