By on March 25, 2014

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General Motors is facing two separate lawsuits related to failures of the ignition switch recalled last month, while also preparing to bring their case before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee next month, led by a representative who honed his skills upon Firestone.

Meanwhile, reports of a quiet swap between the defective ignition switch and an improved switch in 2006 – a swap that may have violated internal protocols -may have serious repercussions for GM and now-bankrupt supplier Delphi.

Finally, a test drive gone wrong results in a GMC Yukon left to burn, whose prompt investigation is only the beginning of a long learning process in how GM handles safety in the future.

Reuters and Just-Auto report two lawsuits were filed against GM over the weekend in Minnesota and California. The former, filed in state court on behalf of three teenage girls severely injured or killed in a 2006 crash involving a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, is considered to be the first wrongful death lawsuit since the recall was issued.  Robert Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales is seeking $50,000 for each of the families affected, and names “New GM” as defendant.

The second, filed in federal court as a national class action by Michaels Law Group, cites fraudulent behavior on GM’s part over the ignition switch and subsequent recall. Founding firm member Johnathan Michaels called the automaker’s actions “an unfortunate chapter” in United States history, and proclaimed GM “allowed products to be put in the stream of commerce, knowing that people would die.”

Reuters also reports U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, penned a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking the Department of Justice to demand GM establish a fund “to fully compensate consumers who suffered injury, death or damage” as a result of the ignition switch. He also suggested said fund could be applied while the DOJ conducts their investigation into the recall, one of many being conducted by various federal parties, including the Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Bloomberg says Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, one of 32 House Republicans to back the 2008 bailouts and former co-chair of the Congressional Automotive Congress, will be take part in hearings on April 1 when the committee meets with GM CEO Mary Barra and other executives in a hearing to discuss what happened with the recall. Fourteen years earlier, Upton took on Ford and Firestone over the Explorer’s defective tires, resulting in the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act of 2000 now affecting both General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Regarding the NHTSA, the Detroit Free Press reports Senator Dean Heller of Nevada sent a letter to agency acting head David Friedman asking for answers by the end of the month as to why the NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation “declined to forward in both 2007 and 2010 on any vehicle recall recommendation” despite receiving direct access to necessary information from GM. Heller also wants to know what if any threshold complaints need to cross before further investigation is taken.

Back home, GM’s knowledge of the defective component — and its subsequent silence — may also claim Delphi under the wave of red flags the automaker ignored at its peril. Automotive News says the litigation protection established for the supplier during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy process could fall if Delphi was found to have committed fraud by not disclosing their part in the ignition defect during proceedings.

Within the Renaissance Center, USA Today says GM learned in 2007 of a 2005 fatality when a Maryland teen, Amber Marie Rose, lost control of her Cobalt and crashed into a tree while intoxicated. The report noted the airbags had not gone off as intended, with the cause linked to the switch set to “accessory” instead of “on.”

Meanwhile, Automotive News reports the in-house-designed switch — the result of the automaker wanting to do more on its own amid rising warranty costs in the mid-1990s — didn’t meet the specs required of it until its redesign in 2006, nine years after engineers were asked to design the part. However, the improved part retained its old part number when former GM engineers claim it shouldn’t have, while GM remained quiet on the matter until 2013 when a wrongful death lawsuit from Georgia started the ball rolling on the issue.

In the wake of the ongoing maelstrom, GM appointed long-serving engineer Jeff Boyer to the newly created position of vice president of global safety. Boyer will report to Barra on all safety concerns and recall decisions. Automotive News says this is just the first in a series of moves the automaker is taking to show how it has changed since emerging from bankruptcy and government ownership over the past few years, but has a long road ahead in making substantial progress regarding its long-standing bureaucratic culture.

Finally, The Los Angeles Times reports a 2015 GMC Yukon taken for a test drive in Anaheim this weekend suffered from what Anaheim Police Department Lieutenant Tim Schmidt says was “some oil leak or some fluid leaking” during the drive, leading to a catastrophic fire once the driver pulled over upon losing control of the vehicle. Autoblog adds GM will be investigating the matter “very soon,” as per the words of spokesman Alan Adler. No one was hurt in the incident.

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59 Comments on “Congressional Hearings Loom As Switch Swap Raises Questions At GM...”


  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Ah, GM. Worst cars I ever had…except for my two ‘vettes.

    Their lone engineer must have had long hours during the malaise years. Thankfully, they’ve now doubled their engineering staff…to two.

    Shove it GM….up your MBA’s you-know-what holes.

    Oh, keep the ‘vette…the only thing you ever made that’s worth preserving.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    As the evidence is rolled out, I can’t help but wonder about the appointment of Mary Barra. Obviously GM knew there would be PR advantage by having a woman CEO at the helm. I have no doubt the mainstream media outlets will attempt to protect her, and as a result GM, regardless of the investigation’s findings.

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    “Reuters and Just-Auto report two lawsuits were filed against GM over the weekend in Minnesota and California. The former, filed in state court on behalf of three teenage girls severely injured or killed in a 2006 crash involving a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, is considered to be the first wrongful death lawsuit since the recall was issued. Robert Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales is seeking $50,000 for each of the families affected, and names “New GM” as defendant.”

    $50k? Really? I can’t imagine they are only seeking $50k in damages for 2 deaths and a brain injury.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “$50k? Really? I can’t imagine they are only seeking $50k in damages for 2 deaths and a brain injury.”

      $50,000 is the minimum amount of damages that must be pleaded as “sought” in order to commence legal proceedings in federal court, known as the “jurisdictional amount.”

      In other words, the actual damages being sought will be much, much higher, especially given the severity of injuries & fatalities involved. $50,000 is just a number that must be plugged in to satisfy the jurisdictional amount sought in order to properly file a complaint in that particular court.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    The corporatists couldn’t have written the script better for another anti-Obama screed. Obama rescues evil, union-riddled “Government Motors” with a bailout a small fraction as large as the one afforded the bankers, saving a million jobs in the process). Then it socks Toyota with a giant fine for a safety violation.

    If the Justice Department doesn’t wire up its electric chair for GM, the Right will scream that Obama is playing favorites for his socialist comrades again. And GM’s usual bureaucratic incompetence put him in position for them to say it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @tonycd – I am sure that this will become highly political. Toyota just got fined over a billion for what, misleading releases of information around SUA and being incredibly slow to take corrective measures.
      We now have GMC caught with their pants around their ankles with evidence that they changed the part, hid the issue along with the supplier…….
      but GMC is “too big to fail” and the diamond in the bailout crown….
      well, okay; cubic zirconia of the socialist left.
      What will happen?
      – They aren’t Japanese and foreign so that should cause some confusion with those on the right………
      – but they were bailed out and a flower in Obama’s cap…… that will make the right spooge their pants.

      This is going to turn out to be an entertaining ride….. for us.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Lets remember – the Bush Administration bailed out Detroit – the Obama Administration continued to execute the Bush plan.

      Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

      Oh, and Bush is on the record of taking credit for the auto bailouts, and saying he would do it again.

      http://www.thedetroitbureau.com/2012/02/bush-would-do-it-again-on-auto-bailouts/

      Like anything politicized, if someone repeats the lie enough times, it becomes the truth.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        It’s more accurate to say that President Bush extended a temporary life line to GM and Chrysler because he didn’t want his successor faced with two large industrial bankruptcies even before he took the oath of office.

        The ultimate terms of the bailout were entirely shaped by the Obama Administration, not the Bush Administration.

        GM and Chrysler got lucky – the 2008 downturn brought to the forefront long-simmering issues that would have eventually led both to file for bankruptcy anyway. Everyone was spooked by the thought of both collapsing simultaneously just after financial sector had tanked.

        If either one had collapsed in, say, 2006, there most likely would not have been any government bailout.

      • 0 avatar
        mypoint02

        Not exactly. The Bush Administration extended $13 billion in credit to the Detroit 3 in late 2008 (bailout #1). The Obama Administration added another $67 billion and executed the bankruptcy and restructuring plans in mid-late 2009 (bailout #2).

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      How, exactly, can one be a “corporatist” while opposing the government bailout of a large corporation?

      Government bailouts smack of corporate welfare, which, at one time, the left vigorously opposed.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        “How, exactly, can one be a “corporatist” while opposing the government bailout of a large corporation?”

        Good question. Ask those who are – it’s a simple matter of record that some of the loudest “conservative” voices in this country have never uttered a peep of protest at the nearly trillion-dollar bailout granted (basically without conditions) to the nation’s largest banks, yet remain vehemently opposed even in retrospect to the bailouts of GM and Chrysler.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          @tonycd: that would be because:
          a) The banks give money to both sides, whereas the automakers don’t give nearly as much and the unions are staunchly Democrat. That would be the pragmatic reasons.

          b) Unions. Unions, unions, unions, unions. Communism, Marxism, Socialism, etc, etc..

          In all fairness, there’s arguments to be made for both. It’s kind of a pity that the opportunity wasn’t taken to gut the management ranks of the banks as was done with the automakers.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          tonycd, several of those who protested the bailouts of GM and Chrysler were also against the bailout of the financial sector.

          I followed all of these issues very closely at the time, and there was widespread opposition to all bailouts among traditional conservatives and libertarians.

          We can also turn your question on its head – how come many of those who are okay with the bailout of the automakers are up in arms over the bailout of the financial sector?

          A total meltdown of the country’s financial sector – which is what we were facing in late 2008 – would have been much more devastating to everyone than the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. If your concern is for the good of the country, then you would favor a bailout of the financial sector over the bailout of two automakers.

          It’s one thing to have production of Chevrolets and Dodges disrupted. It’s another to go to the ATM or Costco or grocery store and not be able to access your bank account with your debit card because the financial sector is in total chaos.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “how come many of those who are okay with the bailout of the automakers are up in arms over the bailout of the financial sector?”

            They blame the banks for the failed economy, and they don’t blame the automakers.

            They want to protect blue collar jobs, not high-paid “bankster” jobs.

            It’s an internally consistent position, but they’re wrong when they fail to see that the banks needed to be propped up.

            Without the bailouts, the world have fallen into a deep depression that would have made the 30s look like a cakewalk. There are times when doing the grownup thing is unpleasant, but it’s best to hold your nose and get on with it.

          • 0 avatar

            > It’s an internally consistent position, but they’re wrong when they fail to see that the banks needed to be propped up.

            The problem that psarhjinian mentions above and which you allude to is the manner of their bailout, which in its details is just as important as the binary choice.

            The equivalent to gubmint as DIP would’ve been allowing the FDIC to do its job, which unsurprising didn’t seem to be part of the national dialog of choices available.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Personally, I would have handled the bank bailouts quite differently from how they were handled. But nonetheless, they did need to be bailed out, not for their sake but for ours.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “Government bailouts smack of corporate welfare, which, at one time, the left vigorously opposed.”

        Depends who on the left you talk to. The hierarchy would generally go as follows:
        1. Outright nationalization, Renault-style
        2. Bail them out to avoid the “Cratering the economy” thing
        3. Let them fail, damn the torpedoes.

        I’d prefer #1 and was a little disappointed to see that it didn’t happen. I’d accept #2, especially since it came with a housecleaning that was so desperately needed.

        I wasn’t willing to accept the consequences of #3.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          Given the history of British Leyland, which was partly nationalized by the British government, that’s not a solution most of us would embrace.

          Even the French government, which is hardly a bastion of Ayn Rand worshippers, ultimately decided that state ownership was crimping Renault’s long-term prospects. That is why the government privatized Renault in 1996.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          I see no upsides to full nationalization.

          I just wish that the GM housecleaning had gone further than it did. There are still too many distribution channels (and arguably too many brands), and probably still too many dealers.

          The feds also dumped the stock too soon. They should have resisted the political pressures to exit early, and hung on for higher share prices. Selling too soon caused the taxpayer to leave billions on the table, which ironically only gives more stuff to those same critics to complain about.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            You have to give the Obama Administration credit for demanding the resignation of Rick Wagoner.

            The mind-boggling part is that when this action was taken, the GM Board of Directors finally took a stand.

            Unfortunately, the Board’s stance was to express unhappiness over the decision to force Wagoner to resign.

            Which says that you are right that the housecleaning didn’t go deep enough.

            I’m also still trying to figure out who, in 2014 America, still believes that a Buick is more prestigious than a Chevrolet.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I was pleasantly surprised by the task force. The administration deserves an A grade for how it handled it — instead of appointing some know-nothing lackey, it gave the job to a rough-and-tumble deal guy who got down to business.

            Had an outsider been able to acquire GM, it would have surely dumped Wagoner, too. He was not a crisis manager, and a complete liability to turning around a failed company. A decent bureaucrat, but no leader.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    “Reuters and Just-Auto report two lawsuits were filed against GM over the weekend in Minnesota and California. The former, filed in state court on behalf of three teenage girls severely injured or killed in a 2006 crash involving a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, is considered to be the first wrongful death lawsuit since the recall was issued.  Robert Hilliard of Hilliard Munoz Gonzales is seeking $50,000 for each of the families affected, and names “New GM” as defendant.”

    $50,000 is the minimum amount of damages that must be pleaded as “sought” in order to commence legal proceedings in federal court, known as the “jurisdictional amount.”

    In other words, the actual damages being sought will be much higher, especially given the severity of injuries & fatalities involved.

    That said, at this point, based on recent discoveries that GM knew of the ignition switch defect, and apparently attempted to hide this issue by implementing a revised ignition switch without changing the part number, is going to represent a major crisis for GM given that this activity likely represent criminal malfeasance.

    —–

    “GM’s knowledge of the defective component — and its subsequent silence — may also claim Delphi under the wave of red flags the automaker ignored at its peril. Automotive News says the litigation protection established for the supplier during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy process could fall if Delphi was found to have committed fraud by not disclosing their part in the ignition defect during proceedings.

    Within the Renaissance Center, USA Today says GM learned in 2007 of a 2005 fatality when a Maryland teen, Amber Marie Rose, lost control of her Cobalt and crashed into a tree while intoxicated. The report noted the airbags had not gone off as intended, with the cause linked to the switch set to “accessory” instead of “on.”

    Meanwhile, Automotive News reports the in-house-designed switch — the result of the automaker wanting to do more on its own amid rising warranty costs in the mid-1990s — didn’t meet the specs required of it until its redesign in 2006, nine years after engineers were asked to design the part. However, the improved part retained its old part number when former GM engineers claim it shouldn’t have, while GM remained quiet on the matter until 2013 when a wrongful death lawsuit from Georgia started the ball rolling on the issue.”

    —-

    It is very unfortunate for those who have no culpability for this chain of behavior by certain personnel at GM, but many, many people are likely to be dramatically and adversely affected by this dramatic revelation.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Here is the crash report for the Maryland teen.

      http://www-nass.nhtsa.dot.gov/bin/Airmis.exe/getPDF?AirMisid=818083366

      • 0 avatar
        sitting@home

        So the 16 year old girl had over double the legal limit of alcohol for an adult, was driving at almost 70mph on a rural road without markings at night in the rain and without a seat-belt on. She made no attempt to brake, in fact she was still accelerating, and the car was mangled beyond recognition when it hit a tree.

        I’m sorry for this girl and her family but in the apportion of blame for her death, the failure of the airbags to deploy because of GM’s faulty switch must be very low on the list.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          GM can argue contributory negligence, if it wishes, in an attempt to defeat liability or mitigate its damages by apportionment of some/all liability to the plaintiff.

          Having said that, most states limit a reduction in damages awarded for failure to wear a seat belt to a percentage (10% in some states, a higher % in others).

          Also, IIRC, intoxication WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE may act as an absolute bar to recovery of damages in at least some states.

          In tort law, generally speaking (with the exceptional of intoxicated drivers), a defendant “takes the plaintiff as they find them.”

        • 0 avatar
          sunridge place

          I’m certainly not an engineer nor do I specialize in crash reports…but what’s to say someone looking at this didn’t assume the car tagged a curb while at the 70 mph and that jolted the key into accessory mode? Also, curious how the car could be accelerating from 53 mph to 70 mph in the final five seconds if the car had stalled. Weird. I think the point here is that this crash wasn’t a no-brainer on why the vehicle went into accessory mode.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Exactly. If the ignition was “off” the only way the car would go from 53 to 70 MPH in the last seconds was going off a cliff. It would have taken an impressive grade to fight the transmission to accelerate that quickly with no power.

            Never mind drunk. Never mind speeding. Never mind no seatbelts. It’s GM’s fault – the car magically sped up!!!

            Oh, and GM blackboxes, unlike Toyota, are open source, been around for well over a decade, and have been frequently used in accident recreations and investigations. The data model they use is rock solid, and shared by other auto makers.

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            Then add in the lack of reporting on details in the media and you end up with statements like Deadweight believes is ‘dramatic’ evidence:

            ‘Within the Renaissance Center, USA Today says GM learned in 2007 of a 2005 fatality when a Maryland teen, Amber Marie Rose, lost control of her Cobalt and crashed into a tree while intoxicated’

            I have no doubt the ignition switch is weak…that’s not my point. I just have a hard time believing this 2005 crash was some sort of ‘gotcha’ moment when the details are so extraordinary. This wasn’t a 40 year old person driving to church on a sunny day. Perhaps the violence of the car leaving the road knocked the ignition into accessory. In my youth, I certainly tagged a few curbs hard enough to shut off my engine….and I wasn’t careening off a road at 70 mph with the accelerator at full throttle.

          • 0 avatar

            We’ll never know what happened.
            But it’s certainly possible that the key was jolted into accessory mode,lost power steering and the intoxicated driver panicked and tried to stomp on the brakes and hit the gas pedal instead.

          • 0 avatar
            sunridge place

            Does your car accelerate when you hit the gas when the engine is off? Cool car…that feature might get NHTSA’s attention too for different reasons.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Sunridge, DW

            In 2012 my brother was somewhat involved with a on road fatality in as a cadet. The suspect (1) drove down a the street at 3 am (2) in a Toyota Echo stolen from her dorm mate (3) without headlights on, (4) being legally drunk, (5) high on I believe heroin, (6) without wearing a seatbelt, and (7) ran a stop light as he drove in the opposite way. She then tried to outrun his cruiser -in a 2001 Toyota Echo- and shortly after he was ordered to break pursuit she hit the side of a garbage truck waiting for a green light eight blocks down at roughly 100mph and flipped three times to become street pizza. I’m not a cruel man, nor am I a progressivist, but I think Darwin was certainly onto something. I suspect the same rules apply in some of these GM crashes.

    • 0 avatar

      > That said, at this point, based on recent discoveries that GM knew of the ignition switch defect, and apparently attempted to hide this issue by implementing a revised ignition switch without changing the part number, is going to represent a major crisis for GM given that this activity likely represent criminal malfeasance.

      Would you or anyone care to address the crux of this story instead of the usual mindless ranting? Srsly, who’re these shows for?

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-rallies-rentals-braces-for-further-investigation/#comment-2994529

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I am sort of surpised that so many commenters are willing to indict the entire company for fraud, conspiracy and murder based on what we know. There is definitely a failure along the chain of command, perhaps an intentional act by a few but I seriously doubt that this goes much further. Despite the large number of vehicles involved, this a pretty cheap fix going back to the time when the defect was first discovered and the parts changed, not something that would have destroyed the company, subject it to endless lawsuits, subject the affected vehicles to extensive redesign and parts costs, etc, etc.

    Perhaps I am callous, but I think this type of thing probably happens much more frequently than we realize and probably among most automakers. Here we have a case where there is evidence of potential knowledge and perhaps coverup by way of the same part number being used despite the redesign. But I think that most automakers are frequently presented with fatal crash data that might bring into question the design/effectiveness of specific parts and or systems but those automakers do nothing to alter any designs because they meet all regulations and the fix would be considered cost prohibitive.

    So I guess my point is, if they find an intentional coverup ordered by top brass, then the outrage is appropriate. The fact that a defective part or product ended up in consumer hands is not all that outrageous and probably common among automakers and many other industries.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      “if they find an intentional coverup ordered by top brass, then the outrage is appropriate. The fact that a defective part or product ended up in consumer hands is not all that outrageous”
      This. Any one who so much as ships plastic bags or bubble wrap will cause death or injury eventually. The coverup instead of fixing something that didn’t have to be an inherent risk is where the outrage should be directed. The whole “every one does it” thing is why the fines are supposed to be significant to the organization. Without the potential to harm the owners value, any regulation could be ignored by hiring a scapegoat.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @thegamper – it does happen all the time but the precedence was set with Toyota.
      They will have no choice but to come down hard on GMC.
      GMC or should I say “new” GMC was hoping that all liabilities would be left with ‘old” GMC BUT “new” GMC still has most of “old” GMC’s managers or should I say mis-managers.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Also, I think that GM is going to largely escape liability. My belief is that some people may face criminal charges but the bankrupcty should insulate GM from most of the liability and potentially even insulate GM from government fines at for pre 2009 actions and omissions.

    GM cannot accept civil liability only for these victims without opening them up for every vehicle sold and every person injured pre-bankruptcy. A billion dollar trust created under Motors Liquidation Company “Old GM” would be depleted in short order and be used to pay legal defense fees ahead of victims.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      There are credible claims at this point that GM committed fraud on the bankruptcy court by inaccurately stating its present & potential liabilities to the court, which, if true, would negate the filing of the bankruptcy petition and court order authorizing bankruptcy protection previously extended.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        The suing parties would have to show that the coverup was orchestrated at the highest levels of GM and basically that there was a conspiracy to commit fraud on the bankruptcy court and creditors, victims etc. Both of our statements are oversimplifications of the issues, but a prebankruptcy incognito part swap carried out by a few people isnt going to come close to jumping the hurdles necessary to unravel the bankruptcy in my opinion.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    GM is turning into Ford. Without the free passes of course.

  • avatar
    George B

    In my engineering experience, a new part that is form, fit, and function compatible with the old part gets the old part number on the new part. Engineers absolutely hate to do paperwork and changing the revision instead of the part number avoids having to change a large number of engineering drawings that had the old part number. However, the ECO associated with the new switch revision should specify the disposition of the old switches. I’d be looking at the paper trail associated with that ECO to see why the change was made and what GM did with existing stock of the old revision switches.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      “Former GM engineers say quiet ’06 redesign of faulty ignition switch was a major violation of protocol”

      “Not assigning the new part number would have been highly unusual, according to three people who worked as high-level GM engineers at the time. None of the engineers was involved in the handling of the ignition switch; all asked that their names not be used because of the sensitivity of the matter.

      “Changing the fit, form or function of a part without making a part number change is a “cardinal sin,” said one of the engineers. “It would have been an extraordinary violation of internal processes.”

      http://www.autonews.com/article/20140324/OEM11/303249959/former-gm-engineers-say-quiet-06-redesign-of-faulty-ignition-switch

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      I’ve heard there are 6-8 part numbers for the steering column/rack assembly used to fix sudden failures of the Ford Escape’s electric power steering.

  • avatar

    the pressure may become unbarrable, careening her career…

    but done right, it could ignite.

    good luck Ms. Barra.

    Buickman
    Founder
    http://www.GeneralWatch.com

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    I bought a muffler from Toyota for my ’91 Camry, and the guy at the parts counter told me that the part number changed 6 times in the last 20 years, likely due to a different supplier or modification. I also know that the part numbers for keys have changed too over the years.

  • avatar

    Most of the commentary here and over the web on this issue don’t seem to grasp its magnitude. Manufacturers get thousands of accidents every year to investigate each of which is unique for a product that has a few thousand parts itself. It’s the classic problem of looking for needles in a metal scrap pile without realizing it’s a needle that needs finding. So far there are some handfuls over a decade or whatever that seem to correlate with this case.

    Generally it’s best to reserve terms like “cover-up” until after verifying it’s a worthwhile problem in the first place least appearing ignorant of what’s going on.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Is some significant portion of your worth tied up in new GM? Violating your own QMS to avoid determining that a defect is reportable to your regulator isn’t just “looking for a needle”. I don’t have insider info, but based on the autonews unatributed “quotes” this is significant. Fraud or not is the courts call.

      • 0 avatar

        > Is some significant portion of your worth tied up in new GM? Violating your own QMS to avoid determining that a defect is reportable to your regulator isn’t just “looking for a needle”.

        It’s the same for every manufacturer and I’ve said as much for Toyota. For example, it’s same “UA incidents” every year and will forever continue to be, same for airbag non-deploy. When actual incidence numbers distinct from the noise are low it naturally makes generalization difficult; that’s just how reality works. If the failure occurred with any frequency we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

        I also asked about “QMS” specifics here more than once, but apparently no answers were forthcoming so that should tell you something.

        > I don’t have insider info, but based on the autonews unatributed “quotes” this is significant. Fraud or not is the courts call.

        Fortunately we’re born with brains for figurin’ things outside of what the papers tell us.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    There was an article in the local fish wrapper this weekend on the accident triggering the case in Minnesota…

    http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/pi/general-motors-recall-spurs-lawsuit-over-fatal-2006-wisconsin-accident-b99229846z1-251637011.html

    The sequence of events sounds pretty damning for GM. The only question is will the families be able to recover from “New GM”. This was anything but a normal bankruptcy. Given their huge role in the process, I could see the Feds stepping in and protecting GM. Time will tell…

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      If it pans out worst case for GM, the fine will be a lot smaller than it was for TMC because the threashold for pain amongst GM shareholders is a lot smaller number. It has to be dignificant to change the behavior and incentivise other inc.’s to comply.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    It’s not surprising to see the Feds create a profit grab bag. They grabbed Toyota’s 1 billion and now GM’s. If you’re making “too much” then the Feds will proudly create chaos to bill you for the inconvenience.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    This has happened long before, only in a more heinous way. Remember the first Chrysler minivans that, when rear-ended in a certain way, would dump the back seats out of the van along with the kiddies? Iococa had something to do with justifying all that, something about they knew about the problem but it was too expensive to fix it so they let it fly.

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Jurors+punish+Chrysler+for+hiding+deadly+defect.-a020379898

    “The problem that caused young Sergio’s death–and at least 36 other deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)–was the design of the minivan’s rear-door latch. Chrysler’s 1984-88 minivans (Plymouth Voyager, Dodge Caravan, Chrysler Town and Country) have a rear-door latch with a headless striker, in contrast to mushroomshaped or T-shaped strikers used on other minivans.”

    “Chrysler had conducted filmed crash tests of minivans at its Michigan testing grounds. About the time that the headless striker was replaced with a flanged one, two films of left-side collisions with minivans were pulled from the company’s archives, shredded, and burned. Logbook entries related to the missing films were deleted.”

    “A senior engineer at Chrysler recommended building a safer latch that could be installed for a one-time tooling cost of about $100,000 plus about 50 cents per vehicle for the new part. Chrysler refused to make the improvement, possibly because the company was then telling NHTSA that “we do not believe there is a significant problem with liftgate retention.”

    “In ensuing negotiations, Chrysler and NHTSA agreed that the company would replace latches on 4.2 million vehicles in a voluntary “consumer service action.” There would be no public request from NHTSA, and Chrysler would not acknowledge a defect or safety problem. ”

    eerie.


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