The Truth About Cars » failure http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:58:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » failure http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Too Big To Fail, Too Confused To Operate: Analysis Of 619 Pages Of Cobalt Engineering Documents [w/ Full Text] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799138   The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently released the documents GM submitted for investigation, which includes emails and internal reports documenting GM’s response to reports of their early Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models inadvertently shutting the car “off” while driving due to an ignition cylinder that was, simply, too easy to turn out […]

The post Too Big To Fail, Too Confused To Operate: Analysis Of 619 Pages Of Cobalt Engineering Documents [w/ Full Text] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

DSC_9144
The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently released the documents GM submitted for investigation, which includes emails and internal reports documenting GM’s response to reports of their early Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models inadvertently shutting the car “off” while driving due to an ignition cylinder that was, simply, too easy to turn out of the “run” position; and in the case of several accidents, allowed the ignition cylinder to rotate out of the run condition before or during accidents, causing the airbags to not deploy when required.

The documents, totaling 619 pages (some with repeat info), reveal just how deep seated “old GM” was in their cost cutting ways (Driving down supplier costs to the point of sacrificing quality, admittedly poorly designed ignition cylinder, and removing internal quality control on the parts), and just how blind sided “new GM” was during their investigations. It also confirms how suspended engineers Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman were involved in the ignition switch response, and fuzzy problem solving. Full text and an analysis of key documents below.

We already know the basics of how this happened, but it’s still surprising just how ingrained GM was in putting the issue aside. The key issues are these:

  • GM became aware of the ignition issue in the 2001 preproduction Saturn Ion and the 2005 preproduction Chevrolet Cobalt.
  • Gary Altman initiated the report that lead to the insert, and Ray DeGiorgio consulted on the fix and argued against ignition switch changes.
  • Many different options were proposed, including suggestions from Delphi.
  • Cost played a major role in the decision to not recall the ignition switch early on.
  • The later key insert was the result, and was seen not as a fix, but as a “containment.”
  • GM also had very little oversight on parts from Delphi, only relying on Delphi’s incomplete testing.
  • GM’s engineers knowingly put the cars to market with a defective ignition switch.
  • This lead to ISB #05-02-35-007.
  • In 2006, DeGiorgio eventually signed off on design changes for Delphi, that included a stronger spring and plunger for the detent mechanism in the ignition cylinder, which provides a physical resistance between the different key positions.
  • When implemented in 2007, the new ignition cylinders cost less than a dollar per unit more than the original design; $400,000 to retool the production lines. These are the same changes that were deemed “not an acceptable business case” in 2005
  • As company, however, no one knew who signed off on the change until the Melton family lawsuit.
  • In court, DeGiorgio testified that he was unaware of changes to the ignition cylinder that would have effected the detents, only mentioning the key change..
  • Later investigations showed that the Cobalt had a substantial number of airbag warranty claims.
  • Higher level GM representatives broadsided by NHTSA’s investigations and disapproval of their slow reaction to other recent recalls.

First up, Gary Altman’s and Ray Giorgio’s role in the ignition cylinder issue is a problem. In court, Altman claimed that he did not feel that the Melton’s car was “unsafe.” This coming after submitting the initial mechanical complaint about the ignition falling out of run, in 2004:

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf
During the investigation, several different approaches to modify the ignition cylinder were brought up to DeGiorgio. All of which were quickly dismissed by DeGiorgio, because the switch was already “very fragile,”

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (1)
Later on, all fixes were dropped, as it wasn’t deemed necessary. With a tight deadline and budget, the engineers could not justify any of the fixes at the time, as it wasn’t an “acceptable business case.”

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (2) docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (3) docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (4)

In 2006, DeGiorgio finally signed off on a design change for Delphi. The design change included  a stronger spring and longer detent plunger to increase the force needed to switch the key between different positions, along with an unrelated electrical upgrade. In an unexplained move, DeGiorgio did not assign a new part number to the improved switch design. The design change added 90 cents to the parts cost, and about $400,000 in tooling costs.

 

cobalt report 3
docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD047.pdf (1)

But, with this large of a role in the decision to delay the redesigned ignition switch, DeGiorgio claimed that he was not aware of any mechanical changes to the switches during his testimony in the Melton family suit against GM:

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD056.pdf
Though, he did sign off on the changes, and worked with Delphi to test batches of ignition cylinders that contained an upgraded PCB (Printed Circuit Board), and detent plunger:

cobalt report 14

democrats.energycommerce.house.gov sites default files documents GM-Commodity-Validation-Sign-Off-2006-4-26.pdf

 

Curiously enough, though, is that GM had very little oversight on Delphi’s quality control, and Delphi did not check the rotational torque needed to turn past the switches detents. GM simply accepted Delphi’s parts and trusted their QC. But with rumored tensions between GM and Delphi, it’s said that cost cutting measures might be to blame as GM forced Delphi to push prices down, sacrificing parts quality. If this were true, GM’s choice to outsource QC to the supplier left them in the dark for too long, preventing them from seeing the immediate effects of their problems with Delphi:

cobalt report 4cobalt report 18

While this was going on, GM released the key insert as a “containment solution;” it would be the minimum needed to alleviate the problem for effected customers. This was chosen over two other modifications to the ignition cylinder, which were seen as a “partial solution” in the case of adding an additional detent mechanism to add more resistance to rotating the key out of “run,” and a “sure solution” involving moving the ignition switch higher up on the column, using a gear drive system to reach the rotary switch responsible for selecting which electrical circuit to run on. The added gearing would also increase rotational torque, the design stated.
cobalt report 11
cobalt report 12cobalt report 13
In 2007, the NHTSA began to probe into the surprising number of airbag-related complaints, despite “GM’s indications that they see no specific pattern.”
cobalt report 15

The issue was set aside, for the most part, until GM was informed by the Melton suit that there was a possible design change in the switch, based on an investigation into junkyard-found switches from the effected models. The testing showed that there was a noticeable change in detent torque, but no documentation from GM to show the changes. The GM engineers and representatives in the case were caught off guard by this design change, and began an internal investigation. This investigation lead GM engineer Brian Stouffer to find the documents that showed DeGiorgio signing off on design changes with no part number change.

cobalt report 5cobalt report 16
Finally, the most impressive point of this story comes from GM’s reactions to the NHTSA’s investigations. The NHTSA emailed GM asking for clarification on several other recalls, documenting GM’s reactions to other product issues with a disdain for GM’s penchant for doing the least amout possible to avoid full recalls; ie: regional recalls for parts failures in the rust-belt states. Saying that some were broadsided by this information would be an understatement:

cobalt report 19[...]
cobalt report 19

The response by Mike Robinson, VP for environment, energy and safety policy, sums up GM’s perception and confusion over their responses to the Cobalt issue, and several other poor recall responses in the past. “This note from NHTsA, both the content and tone, comes like a bolt out of the blue,” he states, “We worked way too hard to earn a reputation as the best and we are not going to let this slide.”

cobalt report 19
To summarize, GM is its own worst enemy. They responded poorly to incredibly early reports, dismissing the issue too quickly as a casual problem. With reports going back to 2001, during the Saturn Ion development, there is no reason why the switch should have come unmodified to the Cobalt development; never mind the dismissal of the problem before the car was produced. Ray DeGiorgio’s role in this problem is larger than he initially lead on in the Melton case, though his motive in this discrepancy is unknown at this time.

Full text to all 619 pages can be find here.

The post Too Big To Fail, Too Confused To Operate: Analysis Of 619 Pages Of Cobalt Engineering Documents [w/ Full Text] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/feed/ 135
General Motors Puts Stop-Sale & Recall On Chevrolet Cruze Due To Axle Failure [W/ Full Text] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/general-motors-puts-stop-sale-recall-on-chevrolet-cruze-due-to-axle-failure-w-full-text/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/general-motors-puts-stop-sale-recall-on-chevrolet-cruze-due-to-axle-failure-w-full-text/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 20:24:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785465 Last weekend, Chevrolet issued a stop-sale 2013-2014 Chevrolet Cruze equipped with the 1.4L turbo-four with no initial reason for the action. A stop-sale is an order given by a manufacturer to dealers to cease the sales of a specific model of car to repair a problem. It can be anything from minor quality issues, up […]

The post General Motors Puts Stop-Sale & Recall On Chevrolet Cruze Due To Axle Failure [W/ Full Text] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014-Chevrolet-CruzeRS-010-medium
Last weekend, Chevrolet issued a stop-sale 2013-2014 Chevrolet Cruze equipped with the 1.4L turbo-four with no initial reason for the action. A stop-sale is an order given by a manufacturer to dealers to cease the sales of a specific model of car to repair a problem. It can be anything from minor quality issues, up to major mechanical maladies. While not an uncommon event, this comes on the heels of a tidal wave of expanded recalls and investigations centered around the maligned Delta-Platform cars. TTAC was able to obtain a copy of the stop-sale notice for the B&B, which pinpoints the failure to the front-passenger half-shaft not meeting GM specifications, with the half-shafts possibly fracturing as the result. 

It is notable that this is the second time the Cruze was recalled for this exact issue last September. In GM’s letter to the NHTSA on September 23, 2013, GM noted the response time from the initial reports in July of 2013 to the initial stop-sale and recall in September of 2013 after receiving field report of the half-shafts breaking. GM found that poor quality control from the parts supplier lead to micro fractures inside the shaft. It’s unknown at this time why GM has again initiated this recall, but GM plans to release a full chronology in two weeks.

Below is a full text copy of the current stop-sale notice to dealers, and a partial copy of the recall letter which details the failure; the portion of the document left it is merely repair instructions for the technician.

GM CUSTOMER CARE AND AFTERSALES
DCS3173
URGENT – DISTRIBUTE IMMEDIATELY

Date: March 28, 2014

Subject: 14079 – Safety Recall — Stop Delivery Until Safety Recall Has Been Performed On Vehicle
Front Axle Right Half Shaft Fracture

To: All Chevrolet Dealers

Attention: General Manager, Service Advisor, Service Manager, Parts and Service Director, Parts Manager, New Vehicle Sales Manager

General Motors is announcing Safety Recall 14079 today. Please see the attached bulletin for details.

Vehicles involved in this recall were placed on stop delivery March 27, 2014. Once the service procedure contained in the bulletin has been performed on the vehicle, the vehicle is released from stop delivery and the vehicle can be delivered to the customer.

Customer Letter Mailing
The customer letter mailing date has not yet been determined.

Global Connect (GWM)
The “Investigate Vehicle History” (IVH) screen will be updated week of March 24, 2014. A list of involved vehicles in dealer inventory is attached to this message. Please hold all warranty transactions until the VIN appears in IVH.

Campaign Initiation Detail Report (CIDR)
The CIDR will be available in the near future.

END OF MESSAGE
GM CUSTOMER CARE AND AFTERSALES

And, finally, the recall report. Full text with photos detailing how to diagnose whether or not your Cruze has the defective half-shaft is here.

PRODUCT SAFETY RECALL

SUBJECT: Front Axle Right Half Shaft Fracture

MODELS: 2013-2014 Chevrolet Cruze Equipped with 1.4L Turbo Engine (LUV)

CONDITION

General Motors has decided that a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety exists in some 2013-2014 model year Chevrolet Cruze vehicles, equipped with a 1.4L turbo engine (LUV). The interconnecting tubular bar on the front right axle half shaft on some of these vehicles may not meet GM specification and could fracture and separate. If this occurs while driving the vehicle, steering and braking control would be maintained; however, the vehicle would lose power to the wheels and would coast to a stop. If a vehicle with a fractured half shaft is parked on an incline without the parking brake applied, the vehicle could move unexpectedly, resulting in a possible crash or injury to pedestrians.

CORRECTION

Dealers are to inspect and, if necessary, replace the half shaft.

[...]

The post General Motors Puts Stop-Sale & Recall On Chevrolet Cruze Due To Axle Failure [W/ Full Text] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/general-motors-puts-stop-sale-recall-on-chevrolet-cruze-due-to-axle-failure-w-full-text/feed/ 111
GM Found Ignition Switch Issues In 2001 With Saturn, Updated Chronology, New Study Shows 303 No-Airbag Deaths [w/ Full Text] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-found-ignition-switch-issues-in-2001-with-saturn-updated-chonology-new-study-shows-303-no-airbag-deaths-w-full-text/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-found-ignition-switch-issues-in-2001-with-saturn-updated-chonology-new-study-shows-303-no-airbag-deaths-w-full-text/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 20:45:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=771081 General Motors released their updated chronology to the recall effecting the 2007 and earlier Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR; Pontiac G5 and Solstice; and Saturn Ion and Sky. Most of the new chronology works just to update the document with the expanded recall, but there’s a key update: During the Saturn Ion development in 2001, a […]

The post GM Found Ignition Switch Issues In 2001 With Saturn, Updated Chronology, New Study Shows 303 No-Airbag Deaths [w/ Full Text] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
DSC_9022
General Motors released their updated chronology to the recall effecting the 2007 and earlier Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR; Pontiac G5 and Solstice; and Saturn Ion and Sky. Most of the new chronology works just to update the document with the expanded recall, but there’s a key update:

During the Saturn Ion development in 2001, a preproduction model had  an ignition cylinder problem that was caused by, you guessed it, “low detent plunger force,” the result being that it takes a low amount of effort to knock the key out of the “run” position.

The 2001 Saturn Ion pre-production report goes on to say that design changes to the ignition cylinder seemingly eliminated the issue. However, in 2003 a report documented an instance where an Ion was brought in for repair, and the technician servicing the car experienced a situation where the Ion stalled while driving, due to the key rotating “off.” The technician noted that “[t]he owner had several keys on the key ring,” and initially thought that “[t]he additional weight of the keys had worn out the ignition switch.” The technician replaced the ignition cylinder, and the report was closed.

As we discussed in previous posts, Technical Service Bulletins (known by GM as Information Service Bulletins, or ISP for short) is the result of several field reports on a common issue, and is eventually entered into a database known as the General Motors Vehicle Information System, or GMVIS for short. ISB’s are not found by a tech unless they are searching for a related issue. Thus, the 2003 example above is an early report that lead to ISB  #05-02-35-007.

Also outlined in the updated chronology deals with Saturn’s  sensing and diagnostic module (“SDM”), which differs from the Cobalt in that it is designed to stop recording once the engine of the car is no longer running. This means that crash data from a Saturn Ion SDM is not as conclusive as a Cobalt’s, which continues to record the ignition position during an accident in which the engine has been turned off.

Despite this, GM believes that the ignition cylinder issue has lead to eight accidents and four fatalities involving a Saturn Ion. At least three accidents involving the Chevrolet HHR can be linked; but no accidents involving a Pontiac Solstice or Saturn Sky have been found by GM. This brings the confirmed number of accidents to 31, and total number of deaths to 13.

The New York Times reports that in a study initiated by the Center for Automotive Safety (“CSA”), a private watchdog group, Friedman Research Corporation analyzed federal crash data and found 303 deaths linked to no airbag deployment in the recall-effected vehicles. The study does not link these no-airbag crashes to the ignition switch maladies, but questions why the NHTSA took so long to react to a mounting problem with the Cobalt and Ion.

In the letter to the NHTSA, CSA states the “NHTSA should have and could have initiated a defect investigation to determine why airbags are not deploying in Cobalts and Ions in increasing numbers.” And GM has began its own internal investigation, hiring former United States attorney for Northern Illinois, Anton Valukas to investigate.

“Research is underway at G.M. and the investigation of the ignition switch recall and the impact of the defective switch is ongoing,” Mr. Martin, the G.M. spokesman, said. “While this is happening, we are doing what we can now to ensure our customers’ safety and peace of mind. We want our customers to know that today’s G.M. is committed to fixing this problem in a manner that earns their trust.”

What have we learned through all of this? The engineers and technicians did their job, and GM had every piece of the puzzle; but as explained in the chronology, each piece was scattered about by an alphabet soup of committees. The review process let us down, both with Delphi’s quality control in the early switches and GM’s internal reaction to the situation. Further investigation will hopefully lead us to fully understanding the error in GM’s review process.

The full text of the updated chronology can be seen here.

The post GM Found Ignition Switch Issues In 2001 With Saturn, Updated Chronology, New Study Shows 303 No-Airbag Deaths [w/ Full Text] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-found-ignition-switch-issues-in-2001-with-saturn-updated-chonology-new-study-shows-303-no-airbag-deaths-w-full-text/feed/ 49
General Motors Expanding Ignition Cylinder Recall To Other Models, Releases Timeline On Failure [w/ Full Text] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/general-motors-expanding-ignition-cylinder-recall-to-other-models-releases-timeline-on-failure/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/general-motors-expanding-ignition-cylinder-recall-to-other-models-releases-timeline-on-failure/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 22:19:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=755257 “The process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been. We are deeply sorry and we are working to address this issue as quickly as we can.” — Alan Batey,  president of General Motors North America Yesterday, GM expanded their ignition switch recall to include the other models mentioned in […]

The post General Motors Expanding Ignition Cylinder Recall To Other Models, Releases Timeline On Failure [w/ Full Text] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2010-chevrolet-cobalt-pic-25714

“The process employed to examine this phenomenon was not as robust as it should have been. We are deeply sorry and we are working to address this issue as quickly as we can.” — Alan Batey,  president of General Motors North America

Yesterday, GM expanded their ignition switch recall to include the other models mentioned in the #05-02-35-007A Technical Information Service Bulletin (“ISB”). These include:

  • 2005 – 2007 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2006 – 2007 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2003 – 2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2007  Saturn Sky

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also launching a probe into why GM took so long to issue a recall. GM also released their chronology of the ignition cylinder issue and years of investigation to TTAC, which we will break down for your digestion along with the full text, after the jump.

You can read the full text here. Be warned, it’s over 2,300 words long. Here’s a detailed summary of the events:

2004

GM became aware of the issue around the time of the Cobalt launch, when GM learned of one incident where a Cobalt was turn off when the key was inadvertently knocked out of run. GM was able to replicate the issue, and an engineering query was started. Known as the Problem Resolution Tracking System inquiry (“PRTS”), it’s GM’s process for studying defects, finding a solution to the defect, and deciding whether or not the solution should be implemented.

“Engineers believed that low key cylinder torque effort was an issue and considered a number of potential solutions. After consideration of the lead time required, cost, and effectiveness of each of these solutions, the PRTS was closed with no action.”

2005

More incidents were reported to GM of the Cobalt’s ignition cylinder being easily knocked out of “run.” In a PRTS opened in May of 2005, an engineer suggested that the Cobalt’s key slot be changed into a holeThough the initial proposal was approved, the change was later canceled. This lead to the first ISB  #05-02-35-007 in December 2005, which included all of the models (Except for the Saturn Sky, which had not been released just yet) listed above in the current recall , but only up to the 2006 Model Year (“MY”). GM was aware of accidents that had occured before the ISB was issued, and responded to them in the New York Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and The Daily Item (Sunbury, PA) according to the report.

The ISB was later updated to include MY 2007, and the MY 2007 Saturn Sky, which is the copy TTAC obtained last week.

“GM concluded in December 2005 that the Service Bulletin and field service campaign was the appropriate response to the reported incidents, given that the car’s steering and braking systems remained operational even after a loss of engine power, and the car’s engine could be restarted by shifting the car into either neutral or park.”


2006

The engineer responsible for the original ignition switch design signed off on the approval of design changes suggested by GM’s supplier, Delphi Mechatronics. The changes include, among other things, a new detent plunger design and stronger spring to increase the level of effort needed to twist the key between positions. The design was implemented by Delphi with out a change in part number, so GM did not have a hard date in which the design change made it to the effected models, but they believe it was for MY 2007. This is why ISB  #05-02-35-007 was amended to the  #05-02-35-007A in 2006 to include MY2007 models.

On August 1, 2006, GM opened a new PRTS when a Cobalt customer complained of stalling issues after receiving a new ignition cylinder. The PRTS was closed after the condition could not be replicated with 100 miles of driving.

2007

On March 29, 2007, GM employees met with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) to discuss occupant safety. In the meeting, the NHTSA informed the GM employees of a fatal accident that happened on July 29, 2005, where a 2005 Cobalt was involved in a front-end collision, and the vehicle’s sensing and diagnostic module (“SDM”) detected that the car was in the “accessory” position. Though GM’s legal department had opened a case in 2005, the GM employees at the NHTSA meeting were not aware of the incident.

GM tasked an investigating engineer to look into Cobalt crashes. By the end of 2007, GM found ten incidents where the car was claimed to have shut down prior to the accident. SDM was available for nine out of the ten crashes. In five of those crashes, the SDM reported that the ignition was in the “run” position, and four where in the “accessory” position.

2009

In Febuary 2009, a new PRTS was opened, and finally concluded with the design change in the Cobalt key suggested earlier. GM also met with Continental, the supplier of the SDM’s used in the Cobalt, in May. By this point, GM was aware of fourteen crashes, seven with the SDM reporting the key in the “run” position, and seven reporting the key in the “accessory” position. GM sent two Cobalt SDM’s that reported the ignition in the “run” position at the time of the accident to Continental for further testing. Continental revealed in the meeting that they had access to data that GM engineers did not, and found that in both SDM’s the sensing algorithm had been stopped while reporting the key in the “run” position. GM and Contentental discussed possible causes, but it is not known by TTAC at this time as to what those possible causes were.

2010

The Cobalt’s production was phased out as previously planned.

2011

GM launched an alphabet soup investigation using their Field Performance Evaluation (“FPE”) process, and assigned a  Field Performance Assessment Engineer (“FPAE”) to investigate a group of 2005-2007 Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 crashes where the airbags had no deployed in a frontal crash.

The results were inconclusive at first, with several other driver-factors that came into play with some of the accidents (Gravel roads, high speeds, etc). The only thing confirmed in the FPE investigation was that “some of the ignitions were recorded as having been in the ‘run’ position, while others were recorded as having been in either the “accessory” or “off” positions, at the time of the crash.”

The FPAE was asked to investigate if other known issues, namely the known ignition cylinder issues, were to explain the airbag non-deployment in the 2007 and earlier vehicles.

2012

In May of 2012, the FPAE tested the ignition cylinders of Chevrolet Cobalts, Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac G5s, and Saturn Ions, in model years ranging from 2003 through 2010, according to the report. The cars were sampled at a salvage yard, and tested for their “torque performance,” or how much torque it takes to rotate the key though its detents. They found in vehicles made from MY 2007 and before that several switches showed torque performance below what GM had originally specified.

GM also looked to see if changes to the Cobalt’s anti-theft system in 2008 had any effect on the design of ignition cylinder, but results were inconclusive. GM opened two studies using their “Red X” and “Design for Six Sigma” problem-solving methodologies to look at why the tested ignition cylinders’ torque performance differed so greatly between one another. The Red X investigation was closed in November of 2012. The Design for Six Sigma investigation closed in January 2013. Both were inconclusive.

2013

In April of 2013, the FPAE discovered that the torque performance of a new GM ignition switch purchased after 2010 differed greatly from one in a 2005 Cobalt. The FPAE also learned that the plunger and spring differed greatly, as well.

Shortly after that assessment, GM consulted an outside engineering resource to investigate all of their findings. It was confirmed that the MY2007 and older cars regularly failed to meet the torque performance that GM had specified; that there was a change in the ignition cylinder design in late-2006 by Delphi, the part supplier; and that those changes were responsible for the different torque performance difference in the MY2007 and older cars when compared to the later model cars.

With all analysis complete, the results were brought to GM’s Field Performance Evaluation Review Committee (“FPERC”) and the Executive Field Action Decision Committee (“EFADC”) on December 17th, 2013, and a second EFADC meeting on January 31, 2014, when the EFADC directed a safety recall.

Conclusion

GM’s report summarizes it best:

Between 2005 and the date of this submission, GM is currently aware of 23 frontal-impact crashes involving 2005 to 2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and 2007 Pontiac G5s in which the recall condition may have caused or contributed to the airbags’ non-deployment. During that same timeframe, of these crashes, GM is currently aware of six that resulted in eight fatalities of frontal occupants. GM employees became aware of many of these crashes within a month of the dates on which they occurred. As GM learned of these crashes, employees undertook to investigate the underlying facts and circumstances to determine, among other things, why the airbags had not deployed. With respect to 22 of the 23 frontal-impact crashes referenced above, the data retrieved from the vehicles’ SDMs indicated that the ignition switches were in the “run” position in nine of the crashes, in the “accessory” position in twelve of the crashes, and in the “off” position in one of the crashes. Throughout this period, GM was involved in claims and lawsuits in which allegations were made regarding the ignition switch issue that is the subject of the recall. These 23 crashes are out of a total U.S. population of 619,122 vehicles subject to the pending recall.

 

What’s clear to me is this: GM was neglectful in dismissing the issue so early on. While the design was repaired by Delphi in a reasonable amount of time, the implementation into the older models should not have been ignored for so long. This is where GM dropped the ball, in my opinion. The key design change was not enough, only bandaiding the fault of the ignition cylinder.

So, here is the question for you, B&B. Where is GM irresponsible?

Were they justified in delaying their full investigation with the FPAE until 2011, 7 years after finding the issue? And was their investigation timely? Delphi solved the problem in late-2006, why did it take GM until 2013 to confirm the changes and move forward with the recall?

[Ed. Note: Title updated with full text mention]

The post General Motors Expanding Ignition Cylinder Recall To Other Models, Releases Timeline On Failure [w/ Full Text] appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/general-motors-expanding-ignition-cylinder-recall-to-other-models-releases-timeline-on-failure/feed/ 119
GM Knew About Deadly Defect For Nearly A Decade, Dismissed It In Technical Service Bulletin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/gm-knew-about-deadly-defect-for-a-decade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/gm-knew-about-deadly-defect-for-a-decade/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 02:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=750297 GM is recalling 778,000 units of the 2005 through 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 over an issue where the ignition cylinder inadvertently turns out of the “Run” position, there by turning the car’s main electrical systems “off”. These systems include the engine, anti-lock brakes, and airbag systems. According to USA Today, GM knew of six deaths, […]

The post GM Knew About Deadly Defect For Nearly A Decade, Dismissed It In Technical Service Bulletin appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
cobalt TSB1
GM is recalling 778,000 units of the 2005 through 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 over an issue where the ignition cylinder inadvertently turns out of the “Run” position, there by turning the car’s main electrical systems “off”. These systems include the engine, anti-lock brakes, and airbag systems. According to USA Today, GM knew of six deaths, and twenty-two other wrecks related to the ignition failure, and was aware of the defect since 2004.

The recall was issued last week to replace the ignition cylinder on effected models, but the problem is, GM knew about this failure early in 2006 in a Technical Service Bulletin, or TSB for short. In fact, the Cobalt and G5 have had two more ignition related service bulletins in the last few years, which TTAC has obtained.

Upon examining the full text of the 2006 TSB #05-02-35-007A, which dismisses the issue as a mechanical fault almost immediately, TTAC learned that dealers are instructed to adjust customer’s habits before carrying out the apparent fix, which involves changing the shape of the key ring design on the factory key.

According to court documents sourced by USA Today, GM is being sued by the estate of Brooke Melton, who died on March 10, 2010 when her Cobalt lost electrical power and she lost control of the car. This happened despite Melton’s car being returned to her from the dealer after ignition switch repairs, according to the Melton estate’s lawyer, Lance Cooper.

Lance Cooper also added that Melton’s car was not equipped with the modified key GM used for the TSB #05-02-35-007A repair, despite having just left the dealership for ignition cylinder repair.

Full text of TSB#05-02-35-007A and a full understanding of TSBs below:

#05-02-35-007A : Information on Inadvertent Turning of Key Cylinder, Loss of Electrical System and No DTCs – (Oct 25, 2006)

Subject: Information on Inadvertent Turning of Key Cylinder, Loss of Electrical Systems and No DTCs [DTC stands for Diagnostic Trouble Codes]

Models:

  • 2005–2007 Chevrolet Cobalt
  • 2005–2007 Chevrolet HHR
  • 2005–2006 Pontiac Pursuit (Canada Only)
  • 2007 Pontiac G5
  • 2006–2007 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2003–2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2007 Saturn Sky

This bulletin is being revised to add a model year. Please discard Corporate Bulletin Number 05-02-35-007 (Section 02 — Steering).

There is potential for the driver to inadvertently turn off the ignition due to low ignition key torque/effort.

The concern is more likely to occur if the driver is short and has a large and/or heavy key chain. In these cases, this condition was documented and the driver’s knee would contact the key chain while the vehicle was turning and the steering column was adjusted all the way down. This is more likely to happen to a person who is short, as they will have the seat positioned closer to the the steering column.

In cases that fit this profile, question the customer thoroughly to determine if this may [be] the cause. The customer should be advised of this potential and should take steps to prevent it — such as removing unessential items from their key chain.

Engineering has come up with an insert for the key ring so that it goes from a “slot” design to a hole design. As a result, the key ring cannot move up and down in the slot any longer – it can only rotate on the hole. In addition, the previous key ring has been replaced with a smaller, 13 mm (0.5 in) design. This will result in the keys not hanging as low as in the past.

Part Number: 15842334
Description: Cover, Dr Lk & Ign Lk Key

This is one of many TSBs related to ignition problems with the Cobalt, among other GM models. Most of the issues were lesser related to the ignition cylinder itself, and more to do with the key being locked into the ignition cylinder when the shifter’s neutral safety switch failed, locking the key in.

But the first line in the TSB description states that there is a fault with the low amount of effort or torque needed to twist the key out of the “Run” position. The method advises by the TSB is to tell the driver to reduce the number of items on the key chain, and presumably adjust their driver position to avoid contact. It’s a fair mention, since having an excess amount of keys on a key chain can wear out the key and tumblers, which would mean it would be harder to ‘unlock’ the cylinder.

But in this case, it sounds more like the weight or size of the key chain can allow the key to back out of the “Run” position, thereby powering down all major driving systems. With the engine down, power steering is gone, and power brakes now only have a short reservoir of vacuum left — enough for one, maybe two pumps of the pedal. With the key out of the “Run” position, safety systems like the anti-lock brakes and airbags are no longer powered up.

In the worst circumstances, such as what was documented in the TSB, it’s easy to see how this would cause an accident. No matter who you are, or what kind of driver you suspect you are, the situation is very dangerous. Even with engine stalling issues for other vehicles, at least the anti-lock brakes and airbag system likely would be powered if there was an accident.

There’s different methods in which suggested repairs are sent to a customer, there are TSB’s (GM calls them Interstate Bulletins, specifically), and there are “Campaigns,” otherwise known as voluntary recalls. When a vehicle comes into a GM dealer, they check the General Motors Vehicle Information System, or GMVIS, for Campaigns.

Now, here’s the kicker, Techincal Service Bulletins are not displayed in the GMVIS report. TSBs are not required repairs. These are not recalls, and customers are not informed of TSBs, and they are only checked for by a service tech when there is a related repair. In this case, the customer would have to bring a car in with ignition problems for a tech to find the TSB.

This is standard practice for the industry, and it works this way for almost every manufacturer. But, whether or not something of this nature should have been left to a TSB and not a Campaign is another issue.

cobalt tsb key

Poorly Photoshopped representation of the suggested 2006 key fix.

The hard solution in 2006 was to change the shape of the key ring hole in the key, from a slot to a hole. This would give the key chain less leverage on the edge of the key, reducing the key chains ability to rotate the key in the cylinder. 

Below is a photo gallery of related TSBs with the initial problem description, along with the full description of the NHTSA Campaign issued last week.. The ignition interlock issues were repaired by diagnosing and repairing the shifter assembly. It is unknown at this time what ignition cylinder issue Melton had when she brought in her Cobalt for repair.

cobalt TSB 3 cobalt TSB 2 cobalt TSB1 2006 CHEVROLET COBALT   Safercar   National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  NHTSA  (1)

 

The post GM Knew About Deadly Defect For Nearly A Decade, Dismissed It In Technical Service Bulletin appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/gm-knew-about-deadly-defect-for-a-decade/feed/ 101
Piston Slap: The Balding Accord? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/piston-slap-the-balding-accord/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/piston-slap-the-balding-accord/#comments Mon, 05 Nov 2012 21:02:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465918 Ann writes: Last fall we purchased for my son a 2003 Honda Accord with 78K. When we had it inspected the mechanic pointed out that a few of the fins on the condenser were missing, but the radiator seemed to be working fine so he didn’t think it was a problem worth worrying about. Well, […]

The post Piston Slap: The Balding Accord? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Ann writes:

Last fall we purchased for my son a 2003 Honda Accord with 78K. When we had it inspected the mechanic pointed out that a few of the fins on the condenser were missing, but the radiator seemed to be working fine so he didn’t think it was a problem worth worrying about. Well, shortly after we purchased the car my son had an accident which pulled off the bumper. He has been driving this winter with no bumper, thus exposing the condenser. When he finally took the car in to the body shop they noticed that ALL of the fins are now missing. He said he’d never seen anything like this, no explanation for why they had begun to fail in the first place and continued to drop off. He checked the radiator fluids and took the car for a ride and said as far as he can tell the radiator and condenser seem to be working fine, and to reduce the expense of repairs he doesn’t think we need to replace either but that if we were going to do the work at some point now would be the time. Obviously the fins are there for a purpose. Should we place the condenser since we’ve got the car open doing the other bodywork? Is there any reason we should replace the radiator at this point too? It seems to be working fine.

This is my son’s car and he doesn’t have enough $ to pay for the repairs so we are helping out. We’re looking for ways to keep costs down but I don’t want to do anything foolish.

Your advice would be appreciated.

Sajeev Answers:

Well, that’s a new one for me! Who knew Hondas shed cooling fins like male pattern baldness?

Apparently you aren’t the only one with this problem, even if yours is much worse given your lack of a front bumper. Yes you should replace condenser, if you live in an area where air conditioning is more than just a luxury. The fins maximize the efficiency of the system, as the extra surface area helps cool down the refrigerant as it circulates through the system.

The (engine) radiator? Hopefully all the fins are there, but if not, that absolutely needs to be replaced: you might save a bit in labor with the bumper removed.  Or not. But still…this shouldn’t happen, even with your bumperless Accord.  Hopefully your Accord just came with poorly constructed parts, and the replacements are fortified with plenty of Rogaine.

Fingers crossed on that.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

The post Piston Slap: The Balding Accord? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/piston-slap-the-balding-accord/feed/ 15
Acura Signs The Death Warrant For The ZDX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/acura-signs-the-death-warrant-for-the-zdx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/acura-signs-the-death-warrant-for-the-zdx/#comments Wed, 10 Oct 2012 17:20:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463353 Acura may be refreshing the ZDX for 2013, but the company has simultaneously signed the car’s death warrant, killing off one of the most reviled cars on sale today. Acura’s Jeff Conrad issued a roundabout confirmation of the car’s death “People shopping for a luxury crossover vehicle will find the Acura ZDX an even more attractive product,” […]

The post Acura Signs The Death Warrant For The ZDX appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Acura may be refreshing the ZDX for 2013, but the company has simultaneously signed the car’s death warrant, killing off one of the most reviled cars on sale today.

Acura’s Jeff Conrad issued a roundabout confirmation of the car’s death

“People shopping for a luxury crossover vehicle will find the Acura ZDX an even more attractive product,” said Jeff Conrad, vice president and general manager of the Acura Division. “Moving forward, we will continue to advance the Acura lineup with a focus on new core models, like the recently redesigned RDX and the upcoming all-new RLX flagship sedan, that provide the ideal balance of performance and fuel efficiency that is right for each product and a driving experience that is dynamic and emotional.”

At $51,815, there are understandably few takers for Acura’s four-seat monstrosity. Acura sold only 48 units last month, which may be less than the number of TWAT nominations the ZDX garnered in the same 30 day period.

The post Acura Signs The Death Warrant For The ZDX appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/acura-signs-the-death-warrant-for-the-zdx/feed/ 54
Piston Slap: Honda Slushbox Fail…Averted! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/piston-slap-honda-slushbox-failaverted/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/piston-slap-honda-slushbox-failaverted/#comments Mon, 24 Oct 2011 19:22:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=415661 Jonathon writes: I’ve been remiss about getting results back to readers.  I took the car to the Honda dealer who pushed hard for the power flush . . . only to have the technician do the 3X manual flush.  Turns out that only some 2003 V6 Accords have the available connections to handle power flushing. […]

The post Piston Slap: Honda Slushbox Fail…Averted! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Jonathon writes:

I’ve been remiss about getting results back to readers.  I took the car to the Honda dealer who pushed hard for the power flush . . . only to have the technician do the 3X manual flush.  Turns out that only some 2003 V6 Accords have the available connections to handle power flushing.

Results?  The transmission has been Smoooooooooth ever since — how could it NOT be when the old fluid looked and smelled like old, overcooked coffee? Because the final draining still smelled a little off, I’ll probably do yet another tranny drain with the next oil change.

 Thanks for the advice.

Sajeev Answers:

Who-hoo! I take any victory I can get in the Piston Slap business.  Excuse me while I shamelessly pat myself on the back. Par-taaaay time, son!!!

Okay, serious time.  This letter is proof that regular fluid changes ensure a healthy and happy transmission or transaxle.  Combined with common sense actions (like coming to a stop between reverse and drive engagement) and a large aftermarket transmission cooler for those who must endure hot summers in urban traffic. Or for anyone who loads up their whips more than with just yourself, your iPod and a latte.

Best and Brightest, will you accept a challenge to do just this for your personal slushbox?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

The post Piston Slap: Honda Slushbox Fail…Averted! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/piston-slap-honda-slushbox-failaverted/feed/ 47
Toyota Admits: Prius Brakes Can Get Confused On Icy Roads http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/toyota-admits-prius-brakes-can-get-confused-on-icy-roads/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/toyota-admits-prius-brakes-can-get-confused-on-icy-roads/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2010 11:09:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=344153 Complaints about allegedly faulty Prius brakes are growing by the minute. This morning’s Nikkei reports that in addition to the 14 complaints received by  Japan’s Transport Ministry, dealers in Japan are handling 77. Today, Toyota conceded that the brakes can get confused on icy roads. As reported yesterday, the NHTSA had received numerous complaints about […]

The post Toyota Admits: Prius Brakes Can Get Confused On Icy Roads appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Complaints about allegedly faulty Prius brakes are growing by the minute. This morning’s Nikkei reports that in addition to the 14 complaints received by  Japan’s Transport Ministry, dealers in Japan are handling 77. Today, Toyota conceded that the brakes can get confused on icy roads.

As reported yesterday, the NHTSA had received numerous complaints about the brakes of the new Prius hybrid. According a New York Times tally, the NHTS had logged “at least 136 complaints about the brakes on the 2010 Prius. Many are from drivers who say the vehicle surged forward or temporarily lost braking after driving over a pothole or other uneven surface, and many say it is a recurring problem.”

Toyota Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki assured Transport Minister Seiji Maehara that a remedy for the brake problem has already been devised. At the same time, Sasaki insisted that Toyota will investigate each complaint.

This Tokyo afternoon, Toyota gave a press conference. Bad news: Toyota is investigating whether any of its hybrids besides the Prius have brake problems. The Sai, which was released in December, and the Lexus HS hybrid use the same electronic braking system as the Prius.

After having received increased complaint in December, Toyota changed the software in January. Also in January, Toyota retooled the braking systems for cars made that month. However, they did not disclose the move. “We were investigating the cause of the problem,” said Hiroyuki Yokoyama, general manager of the Customer Quality Engineering Division, “We did not intend to cover up the issue.”

According to Toyota, the logic of the regen brakes can get confused: “When driving on an icy road, the shift from the electronic brake to the hydraulic brake sometimes takes longer than usual,” Yokoyama conceded.

“At first, we thought the complaints were due to users’ unfamiliarity with the hybrid’s brakes,” Yokoyama explained. “But as it got colder in December, the number of complaints increased. This was when we began to consider a remedy, which we carried out in January.”

But they did not tell previous owners. Braking on icy roads is dicey as it is. You can’t have brakes that haven’t made up their mind whether to brake the old way or the new way.

The post Toyota Admits: Prius Brakes Can Get Confused On Icy Roads appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/toyota-admits-prius-brakes-can-get-confused-on-icy-roads/feed/ 37