GM adds 824k small cars to ongoing recall

A GM dealership in California GM has admitted some of its employees had known about the problems with the ignition switches as early as 2004

General Motors is adding 824,000 more cars to an ongoing recall over defective ignition switches that have caused some engines to shut off and to disable airbags.

The US car maker said it was recalling a variety of models made 2008-11, in addition to 1.6m cars made before 2007 that were recalled last month.

GM said it was unaware of deaths caused by the flaw in the 2008-11 models.

But the problem has been linked to between 12 and 303 deaths in crashes.

Separately on Friday, GM halted sales of some models of the popular Chevrolet Cruze car.

It did not give details of the reasons behind its move, which affects models with 1.4 litre turbo diesel engines, nor did it say whether the sales halt affects markets outside the US.

The recall of the 2008-11 models announced on Friday adds to the 1.6 million cars the company has already recalled over reports of the faulty ignition switch.

"We are taking no chances with safety," GM chief executive Mary Barra said in the company's announcement. "Trying to locate several thousand switches in a population of 2.2 million vehicles and distributed to thousands of retailers isn't practical. Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling the rest of the model years."

The models affected by Friday's recall are the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, Pontiac G5 and Solstice, and the Saturn Ion and Sky.

Death toll disputed
A model of Chevrolet Cruze GM did not say whether the Cruze sales halt would apply to markets outside the US

At issue is a flaw in the manufacture of the ignition switch that causes the key to shift on its own from the "run" position to the "accessory" or "off position", even while the car is driving at full speed on the road.

That can shut off the car's engine and disable the airbags, with potentially disastrous consequences.

Until the cars can be recalled and the ignition switches replaced, GM recommends customers remove all items, including the key fob, from their key rings, using only the vehicle key in the ignition switch.

The firm has admitted that some employees knew about the issue as early as 2004.

The carmaker has linked the issue to 12 deaths. But a report by the Center for Auto Safety has put the number at 303 - a figure that GM has disputed.

The delay in recalling the vehicles has triggered two congressional enquiries against the firm.

Ms Barra is scheduled to testify to both chambers of Congress next week on the issue and address why it did not recall vehicles earlier.

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