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GM Recalls: A Timeline

Written by Tom Crosley
  1. 1. 2014

There were many events leading up to the eventual recall of over twenty million GM vehicles worldwide. So far, vehicle defects have been linked to at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes. Shoddy production, ignored technician notes, and reports by consumers were all significant issues that were not appropriately dealt with until 2014 when GM’s recalls began. Below is a general timeline of major events from this year to show how GM ended up where they are now, but GM’s problems started much earlier.


February 7-13: GM initiates a recall for about 800,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5 vehicles that were manufactured between 2005 and 2007 due to faulty ignition switches. These switches were known to cause the engine to shut off unexpectedly, and the switch defect was also known to shut off an electrical component in the cars that activated the airbags. This recall officially begins on February 13, 2014, and the faulty switches were meant to be replaced; here is a direct link to the submitted recall.

February 24: GM adds over 700,000 additional Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, and Pontiac Solstice vehicles to the recall because heavy key rings, going off road, or “some other jarring event” was known to cause the faulty ignition switches to be moved “out of the run position” and to stop the car. These models were manufactured earlier, from 2003 to 2007. Here is a direct link to the amended recall.

March 4: In a letter to employees, GM CEO Mary Barra defends her company and how they are handling the recall, pledging to conduct an internal review. It is also announced that repairs on recalled cars are to start in early April.

March 10: Internal investigations are initiated by General Motors and are led by attorney Anton Valukas and GM’s own General Counsel Michael Millikin. Some initial details of this investigation, such as the number of vehicles affected and major events regarding the recall are reported in this letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

March 11: It is reported by Bloomberg News that the Justice Department is beginning a preliminary investigation to GM’s failure to address the safety problems that have been know about for a decade.

March 17: GM recalls an additional 1.55 million sedans, SUVs, and vans. Mary Barra also provides an update on recalls to GM Employees via video.

March 27: An emergency hearing was set in Federal Court to hear arguments about a demand that General Motors issue an immediate “park it now” notification to owners of GM vehicles affected by the ignition switch problem.

March 28: GM recalls an additional 824,000 vehicles due to the faulty ignition switch. The switch recall now covers 2.6 million cars sold worldwide. GM also confirmed that another death had been caused by this problem, pushing the total to 13.

March 30: The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation schedules a hearing for April 1st. The hearing will review the recent recall of over 2 million cars to determine why it took so long for GM to respond.

April 1-2: Barra testifies at the House and Senate hearing on the handling of the recall. GM also hires Kenneth Feinberg, best known for determining compensation for victims of tragedies including the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Acting Administrator for the NHTSA David Friedman testifies before Congress as well, contending that GM didn’t provide the agency with all the information it needed.

April 7: Repairs on cars affected by the recall start at GM dealerships. Repairs are free to vehicle owners.

April 10-11: GM finds another flaw in the ignitions of the already recalled vehicles and announces that it will replace an additional part to fix the problem. Two engineers are suspended, which is GM’s first disciplinary action during the crisis. GM estimates that it will cost $1.3 billion in the first quarter to pay for all the recalls.

May 20: Four more recalls, totalling an additional 2.7 million vehicles, are announced in the US. GM agrees to pay a $35 million dollars as a civil penalty over its failure to promptly report the defect, which was actually discovered over a decade ago.

May 20: GM announces the recall of another 2.4 million cars including the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Saturn Outlook; this recall concerns several problems including a defect that can cause the front seat belts to separate from the vehicles during a crash.

May 21: 218,000 Chevrolet Aveos are recalled due to a risk of overheating and fires.

May 27: The New York Times highlights the stories behind the recalls: 13 deaths and untold heartache.

June 5: The report by Valukas is released to the Board of Directors first regarding the ignition switch recall and is later released to the public on June 5, 2014, revealing a “pattern of incompetence and neglect.” Barra states that she has dismissed 15 employees for the handling of this matter.

June 16: Another 3 million cars are recalled, including Chevrolet Impalas and Cadillac Devilles, for a faulty ignition switch.

June 18: Mary Barra makes her second appearance before a House subcommittee regarding the defect, tied to 54 accidents and 13 deaths. She promises not to “rest until these problems are solved.”

June 20: About a half a million Chevrolet Camaros are officially recalled because of different ignition switch defects.

June 23: GM prepares to deal with the costs of the recall, hoping to settle as many injury cases as possible through the compensation fund and out of court. Mr. Feinberg will be handling this funding. The fund will begin reviewing claims on August 1, 2014.

This is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list of all the events surrounding GM’s recent recalls, and because the GM recall story has been progressing so quickly and new developments have been continually unfolding, it is important to keep track of the latest news as it is released. Although GM has said they will be notifying owners of recalled vehicles, you can also check if a recall has been issued for your vehicle using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s search feature, and you can stay up to date by reviewing their reports of the latest recalls.

If you suspect that you have been injured as a result of a GM product defect, contact the Crosley Law Firm today by calling us at 877.535.4529. We offer free consultations and can help you decide if you should pursue a personal injury claim.

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