GM Says 70% Of Vehicles Recalled For Deadly Ignition Switch Defect Fixed

Six months after General Motors began coaxing consumers to fix their recalled vehicles with a social media campaign and the promise of $25 gift cards, the car manufacture says that about 70% of the 2.4 million vehicles recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect have been fixed.

The Associated Press reports that GM has fixed approximately 1.6 million of the recalled vehicles registered and currently in use worldwide since the recall began 14 months ago.

The safety defect – an ignition-switch that can slip out of the run position and cause the engines to stall, knocking out air bags and power steering and brakes – has been determined to have led to crashes that caused at least 80 deaths and more than 150 injuries in the U.S.

GM’s latest completion rate puts the company closer to the 75% completion rate federal safety regulators said was common for recalls.

The car manufacturer previously came under fire from consumers and legislators for its slow pace in getting the vehicles fixed. Shortly after the recall began, the company said the slow-moving progress was because of a combination of consumers not understanding the seriousness of the recall and an early lack of parts.

Because most of the recalled cars are no longer being produced, there were few options when it came to replacing the switches. In fact, Delphi Automotive, a parts supplier, had to bring machinery out of mothballs to start production replacement switches.

When the parts became more widely available, the company said the issue rested mostly on consumers’ lack of knowledge about the severity of the defect.

To combat those problems, GM began an effort to coax more owners into getting their vehicles fixed by using social media and other not-so-blunt means of getting consumers’ attention.

The company not only sent out Facebook messages and made phone calls to owners of mainly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, but CEO Mary Barra sent personal letters urging people to get the switches replaced.

In some cases, Barra said officials with the company would go to consumers’ homes and replace their vehicle with a loaner while issuing the repairs.

Following that initiative, the company began sending a letter about a gift card to vehicle owners who received recall notices but hadn’t had their cars inspected. The letters detailed how owners could receive their choice of $25 gift cards to Starbucks, Amazon, Walmart, Applebee’s, Red Robin, AMC Theatres or Bass Pro Shops.

Consumers qualified for the gift cards by having their vehicles repaired by December 1, then contacting the car company with a corresponding code.

Despite GM’s progress in fixing the recalled vehicles several recent reports have shown that dealers are still selling the dangerous cars.

In March, ABC News bought a new pickup with unfixed recall issues from a New Jersey Chevrolet dealer. The salesman had told the reporter that the vehicle was safe and had no recalls.

Before that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined a Philadelphia Chevrolet dealer $50,000 for selling new vehicles without making recall fixes, the AP reports.

The company has since put in place procedures that aim to ensure dealers aren’t allowing vehicles with unfixed repairs to enter the roadways. Under federal laws, new cars with recalls can’t be sold, but used cars with open recalls can be legally sold.

A spokesperson for GM tells the AP that the company has plans to make it continue holding dealers accountable for not selling vehicles with open recalls. The latest initiative will be a system blocking incentives, which can reach thousands of dollars.

“Until you go in and let us know you completed the recall repair, you won’t be able to see if that vehicle qualifies for any sales incentives,” she said.

​GM: 70 percent of faulty switches are fixed [The Associated Press]