Mon, Jul 21, 2014 - Page 15 News List

GM says it has no fix yet for Cadillac switch issue

IN A FIX:GM recalled 554,000 Cadillacs earlier this month, over fears that accidentally bumping ignition keys could turn engines off, resulting in the loss of power steering

Reuters, DETROIT, Michigan

Senator Ed Markey, a democratic representative from Massachusetts, holds up a GM ignition assembly unit during a US Senate Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance subcommittee hearing in Washington on Thursday.

Photo: Bloomberg

General Motors Co (GM) has ordered Cadillac dealers to stop selling some versions of the CTS model-range because the automaker has not found a solution yet for cars recalled late last month over an issue in which engines can be shut off if the driver’s knee bumps the ignition key, the company said on Saturday.

Details of the incidents leading up to the June 30 recall, including three occasions in which GM employees bumped the keys and shut off the engines in 2012 CTSs, were made public on Saturday by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which oversees safety recalls.

The so-called “stop sale order” to Cadillac dealers on the 2003 to 2014 CTS models and 2004 to 2006 SRX models was issued on July 2 and updated July 8, according to GM documents posted by the NHTSA.

The recall involved about 554,000 Cadillacs in the US.

The order “is still in effect for the foreseeable future,” GM spokesman Alan Adler said on Saturday. GM engineers are “looking at one common solution” for all the recalled Cadillacs, “but they don’t have it yet,” Adler said.

GM so far this year has recalled about 14.7 million vehicles worldwide with switch-related issues and has linked at least 16 deaths to those issues.

Cadillac changed to a push-button starter switch on this year’s redesigned CTS, which does not share the problem with older models. Some versions of the older CTS, including the wagon, were carried over for this model year and were included in the recall.

In documents that were provided to the NHTSA, GM said the main problem with the SRX and the earlier versions of the CTS involved the potential for heavy key rings or a “jarring event” such as a pothole to turn the ignition key out of the run position.

If that happens, the engine can shut off, causing loss of power steering and failure of air bags to deploy in a crash, the NHTSA said.

GM intends to remedy that issue by giving owners a new key with a small hole instead of a slot, which GM says makes it more difficult to pull or jar the key out of position.

GM has a different problem with the second-generation CTS from model years 2008 to this year, which use a different ignition switch than earlier models.

Even after GM shifted to keys with the small hole in late 2010, the cars still displayed a susceptibility to being switched off because of a knee bump.

GM late last month recalled Chevrolet Camaros for a similar problem, where knee bumps could switch the key out of position and turn off the engine. The solution was to replace the switchblade-type key and fob with a single, lighter key.

GM urged owners of the recalled cars to remove all items from key rings, including the key fob, leaving only the ignition key. It also warned drivers to adjust seats and steering columns “to allow clearance between their knee and the ignition key.”

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