Reuters: GM Ignition Woes Came As Early As 1997

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

It may have taken nearly 14 years for one ignition switch issue to finally find attention, but General Motors’ ignition woes go as far back as 1997, when Chevrolet Malibu owners had their own switch problems.

Reuters reports one of the earliest complaints filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was in April of that year, when a New Jersey woman said she had been stuck on the road seven times with her new Malibu due to the switch’s inability to turn and the key stuck in place. The defective part was replaced twice, but to no avail. Other complaints include the key being easily removable while the power was still on, and power suddenly cutting out.

By 2001, when the 2000 Chevrolet Impala experienced its own ignition issues similar to those in the Malibu and, further on, the Cobalt and Saturn Ion, GM sent a pair of service bulletins to its dealership network, offering potential solutions to remedy the problems in both vehicles. However, no recall would be issued until Monday’s order of 8.4 million vehicles.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • JaySeis JaySeis on Jul 05, 2014

    Our farm' s 53 Chev 3/4 ton could be started with medium sized screwdriver.

  • Supremebrougham Supremebrougham on Jul 05, 2014

    I had a 2001 Olds Alero, a car I loved dearly. Last winter I had hit a rough patch of pavement and the car stalled out. My first thought was "What the heck!?!?" Thankfully I had enough sense to know to put the car in neutral and restart it and keep on going. I just figured it was a really rough patch of road. A couple of months later I hit another bump and the car did the same thing. Looking back, I am beginning to think there was more to it than rough roads. Currently I am doing a recon on my cousins 2001 Grand Prix. I have been driving it some for the past couple of days, and I have noticed that when I put the key in I have to fight with the switch to get it to turn, and once it does, it's not that hard to remove the key once the car is running. I wish GM would sweat the details, because I have generally enjoyed driving their cars, but I am very hesitant to consider another one, unless it's a mid-80's Cutlass Supreme :)

    • Matador Matador on Jul 05, 2014

      Older GM stuff seems better than the new stuff. I have a 2000 Chevrolet Impala as my long-term project car. The key has fallen out by itself while driving. And, it's a new key. Quality control is non-existant.

  • NormSV650 NormSV650 on Jul 05, 2014

    Google any car name or manufacturer and ignition key problems and you'll find plenty of reading.

  • DrGastro997 DrGastro997 on Jul 06, 2014

    So what did the bulletin read? I'm curious how the techs handled this issue back then. I'm also curious about the feedback GM dealers are getting when they offer existing customers to trade in for a newer GM model? I think GM has lost too much to win complete trust from American consumers. Like I said before, GM should focus on truck and Corvette production only. No more "cars"...