Timeline of General Motors ignition switch recall

February 2002: 

GM approved the production of the (now-recalled) ignition switch even though a dozen performance tests conducted by Delphi Automotive, the parts manufacturer, showed that “the switch did not meet the required minimum torque specifications.” Delphi’s tests showed the ignition switch torque was between 4 n-cm to 10 n-cm, which was well below GM’s torque specification of 15 n-m to 25 n-m. Having adequate torque – or the amount of force that’s needed to rotate an object – is important. The lower the torque, the less force is needed to turn the ignition switch from “on” to “off”. Despite the test results, the low torque ignition switches were approved by GM for production and the switches were used in Chevy, Pontiac, and Saturn vehicles in model years 2003-2007.

 

2003: 

There were 5 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2003. In all, from 2003-2012, there were 133 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch problem affecting GM cars in model years 2003-2007.

 

June 2003: 

According to GM’s warranty database provided to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California), the owner of 2003 Saturn Ion reported that he or she “bumped [the] key and car shut off.”

 

2004:

There were 10 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2004.

 

November 2004:

GM opened an engineering inquiry to review a complaint that “vehicle can be keyed off with knee while driving” in a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt.

 

March 2005:

The GM engineering inquiry was closed “with no action”, citing “tooling cost and piece price are too high” and “none of the solutions represents an acceptable business case”, according to documents reviewed by the House Commerce Committee. 

 

2005: 

There were 14 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2005. A model year 2005 Chevy Cobalt crashed in Maryland, and that year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a special crash investigation on the airbag non-deployment in GM vehicles, including the Cobalt and Ion.

 

Mid-2005: 

GM discussed modifying the ignition switch design with Delphi. The re-designed switch considered of a longer spring and had a higher torque than the 2002 model. But the switch’s torque “still did not meet GM’s documented specifications.” 

 

2006:

There were 16 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2006. NHTSA conducted a special crash investigation on a crash involving a GM vehicle in Wisconsin.

 

April 26, 2006:

GM approved the re-designed ignition switch for production. Documents provided to the House of Representatives showed that the ignition switch change was signed off by Ray DeGiorgio, GM’s lead design engineer for the Chevy Cobalt ignition switch. The re-designed switch were used in the 2008-2011 model year vehicles.

 

2007: 

There were 37 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2007.

 

December 2007: 

Official “beginning” of the Great Recession.

 

2008: 

There were 31 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2008.

 

2009:

There were 7 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2009. NHTSA conducted a special crash investigation on a crash involving a GM vehicle in Pennsylvania.

 

June 2009: 

Official “end” of the Great Recession. GM files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with the United States government owning 60% of the new GM.

 

2010: 

There were 8 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2010.

 

March 2010: 

Brooke Melton was killed while driving her 2005 Chevy Cobalt to her birthday dinner.

 

2011: 

There were 4 warranty claims pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2011.

 

2012:  

There were 1 warranty claim pertaining to the ignition switch reported to GM in 2012.

 

April & May 2013: 

Deposition in Melton v. GM uncovered evidence that GM had used the same product number for two different ignition switches.

 

Jan. 31, 2014: 

GM CEO Mary Barra testified that she was informed of the ignition switch problem on Jan. 31st.

 

Feb. 7, 2014: 

GM issued the first recall for model year 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles. This affected 619,122 vehicles.

 

Feb. 25, 2014: 

GM issued a second recall for model year 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, and 2007 Saturn Sky vehicles. The second recall affected an additional 748,024 vehicles.

 

March 27, 2014: 

GM issued a third recall for 2008-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2008-2010 Saturn Sky, 2008-2010 Pontiac G5, 2008-2010 Pontiac Solstice, and 2008-2011 Chevrolet HHR vehicles in which the “defective ignition switches may have been used as service replacement parts”. The third recall affected an addition 823,788 vehicles.

 

April 1, 2014: 

GM CEO Mary Barra and NHTSA Acting Director David Friedman testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. According to lawmakers, at least 13 deaths have been attributed to the GM defective ignition switches.

 

April 2, 2014: 

GM CEO Mary Barra and NHTSA Acting Director David Friedman testified before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance.

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