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Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5’s Recalled for Potentially Deadly Ignition Switches

55 comments

General Motors has issued a recall of 778,562 older model compact cars in North America.  The 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 have faulty ignition switches, which have led to at least 22 collisions and six deaths. In the recalled vehicles, the ignition switch can shut off without warning when jarred or under the pressure of a heavy keychain. The switch turns to “accessory” or “off” while the car is being operated causing the power assist for the brakes and steering to become inactive along with other electrical systems. To compound the danger, the airbags may cease to work as well.

The challenge for GM will be finding these older model cars. They are not likely to be with original owners or recorded at dealerships where recalls are typically relayed to registered owners. Owners of the older Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 may have bought their cars directly from a previous owner or from small used car lots.

Once the cars are located, the fix is relatively simple—all that is required is a new ignition switch.  Until the actual recall is in place, GM is advising all owners of the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and the 2007 Pontiac G5 to remove all unnecessary items from the key ring immediately. Once the recall letter is sent out to all affected GM owners, the cars ignition switches will be replaced for free at local GM dealers.

“GM says the six fatalities occurred in five front-end crashes, all of which happened off-road and at high speeds. In each case, the ignition switch moved out of the run position, shutting off the engine and electrical power, spokesman Alan Adler said. That condition would cause the loss of power-steering assist and power-assisted brakes, he said.”  According to Alder, alcohol was involved in three of the fatalities.

This is bad timing for GM, rebuilding its image after the government bailout, and facing scrutiny with the first female CEO to head one of the major automakers.  GM has been receiving reports of crashes related to the ignition switch since May 2013, but had been unable to find the cause of the problem until just recently.

This is a safety-related defect, so if you have one of these cars, get it to your local GM dealer as soon as possible.

For more information on automobile defects, safety and recalls, visit NHTSA’s (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) website.

 

55 Comments

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  1. Tony Day says:
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    My 05 Grand AM having that same issue, most of the time it doesn’t start properly I have to keep turning until it starts.

  2. Debra Lepak says:
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    My son owned a 2006 Chevy Cobalt and was killed in it in March of 2009. We do not know what happened, the airbags did not go off when the car flipped end over end, I have always wondered why? What are you going to do for me and my family now that your car recall may have caused his death. I will never be the same, I lost my job and will be on anti-depressanats and anxiety meds for the rest of my life. My younger kids do not even feel comfortable coming home because it just isn’t the same. Knowing that this may have been able to be avoided makes it even worse. You need to change your stats to 7 deaths. I feel for all of the families that have lost a family memeber that could be due to GM’s negligence.

  3. Mary Major says:
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    I am the owner of a 2007 Pontiac G5 and I have noticed some of these same issues. I called the nearest GM dealer and they notified me that they could not do anything until i received a recall letter in the mail. My address is 115 East Aiken St. Russell’s Point, OH 43348. If you could please send me a letter that would be great.

  4. Nicole says:
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    This is ridiculous. I have made several calls to GM to notify them of this problem in my 2005 Chev Cobalt. This is an old recall but apparently this isn’t fixing the problem. I have had my ignition switch replaced twice. I’ve had electrical issues due to this as well that I had to pay over $2,000 to diagnose and fix all having to do with the ignition and that whole cluster. I no longer want the car and i’ve been without one for a while because I can’t afford to replace it at this time. GM needs to just replace these model cars for their customers before the fatality rate increase further.

  5. Laura Enriquez says:
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    My 22 yr. old son just purchased a 2007 Chevy Colbalt.. with that being said, I am one worried Momma here in Kansas! Especially Since he will be leaving for college in the fall of 2014! What can we do??

  6. Jody Ledet says:
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    I bought a 2007 Chevy Cobalt in late 2006, brand new straight from the local Chevy dealership. I’ve been through 3 recalls with this car already. Nothing new in my opinion…just need to find time to drop it off for a 4th time now.

  7. Dale Jones says:
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    I have a 2007 chavy cobolt my key has been stuck in the ingnition for more then two months and GM Says they have to see if my car is on the recall list.this is my second recall on this car since I had it.Now I pray it dos’t cut off on me in traffic

  8. Kelly says:
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    I have called several dealerships to have my 2007 Cobalt fixed for this issue. I’ve been told that they do not have the specifics as to what needs to be fixed and I should call back in April. This is unacceptable. What happens if my car malfunctions before then and I die??? I will NEVER buy a Chevy again…. NEVER!!!!

  9. Kelly says:
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    Continuing from my previous comment: I have also had to have the fuel pump replaced after only having the car for 3 years. There was a recall on this yet I have never received information regarding that. I am disgusted at the disregard of the safety that Chevy has for their customers. Hopefully they can fix the ignition switches before someone else loses their life!!

  10. Faye Bennett says:
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    I own a 2007 Chevy Cobalt just got a call from my son on the recall for the ignition.then read on here about a recall on the fuel pump.I just had to have my fuel pump replaced last year. on my cobalt.I am second owner my daughter was 1st owner I know she wasn’t notified of the recall or she would have told me.Who is going to stand behind the consumer for all these recalls and negligence on informing us on serious recalls? This is crap especially because I transport 3 of my grand kids to all of their appointments? praying for you GM for all the blood you have on your hands now and in the future!

  11. Jvan02 says:
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    @Laura Enriquez.

    I wouldn’t be too worried,

    1) it only has happend to a very few number of cars, literally several dozen out of nearly a million sold

    2) If it does happen, the car STILL DRIVES, even though this artical implies otherwise. The car still steers with manual steering (like every car before 1965) and it still has reserve power brakes for at least one stop, after which it STILL has manual brakes, (like every car before 1965)

    3) I reccomend having him drive around an empty parking lot, or on a back road, and reach over (from the passenger side) and kill the car and have him drive it out so he is away of how the car behaves when it looses power.

    4) The most important thing to rember if your engine stalls is NOT TO PANIC. the car is still safe.(same goes for flat tires or any other malfunction) put on the flashers, if they still work, and SLOWLY pull over to the shoulder if possible or come to a complete stop in the roadway. Coast as long as possible. If in the roadway, use a cell phone and dial 911 for assistance getting the car off the road, DO NOT EXIT the vehical into a busy roadway.

    Just my $.02

    • Greg Webb says:
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      Jvan02,

      I suggest the following: How about GM fix the problem – isn’t that a good idea? (Take the car in to your GM dealer and have it repaired). How about GM warn of the problem when it knows it to be one – might that have helped some folks? And then issue a recall (years ago) to fix the problem, before more die. I am glad you are so skilled a driver (are you a stunt driver?) that you “wouldn’t be too worried”. But, again, I really do not find your suggestions that comforting in the long run. May I ask how many times you have driven your Cobalt or G5 while this problem occurred?

      Greg

  12. Jvan02 says:
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    @Kelly

    Here’s hoping you wont die.

    1) This happens usually with heavy key rings (lots of keys etc) so to help prevent this, lighten up your keys, maybe just use the actual car key by itself.

    2) If it does happen, you most lily WILL NOT DIE. the car is still fine, (see my post above) It’s not like the car goes on a runaway run like those Toyota’s did a few years back. it simply won’t “go” anymore, just dont panic, pull over and restart it, or have it towed.

    • Greg Webb says:
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      Jvan02,

      Your response is interesting. You use terms like “happens usually”with heavy key rings, and, “you most likely WILL NOT DIE”. Probably true. But what about the people who have died and their families? What if that were you or a loved one? Six people have died. How many are acceptable to GM (and society)? Is it OK if 6 people have died because of a defect that was easily and inexpensively prevented by the manufacturer? What about people who died after GM knew of the problem and did not warn folks of it, nor even treed to fix it – assuming allegations are true, which I believe probably are?

      Many automobile design engineers, the most reputable ones, believe that ONE death because of a reasonably foreseeable hazard (and defect) is too many. Most reputable car manufacturers agree with that if you can pin them down under oath. So, I would submit that the fact that I, or a loved one, “most likely will not die” does not offer me the degree of comfort I would like when paying thousands of dollars for a car I believed to have been safely engineered.

      That’s my .02.

      Greg

  13. Ashley Creel says:
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    I drive a ’05 Chevy cobalt & I’m having this problem also. It happens every now and then where my car don’t want to start.

  14. Jan says:
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    I have a 2008 colbalt and I had an ignition problem also,my car would not shut off,I also have electric problems,my headlights turn on when they feel like it,my car locks and unlocks it self,my front speakers don’t work,now my transmission is going out. I like my car and I take very good care of it,I don’t know what happened to chevy but I am very concerned and disappointed.

  15. Carleton MacLean says:
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    I have a 2008 g5 Pontiac with the same trouble with the ignition. is this car recalled also?I sure hope so as I do not want to kill or be killed in a car accident because of this problem

    Carleton Maclean

    • Greg Webb says:
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      As I understand it, the recall just affects 2007 G5’s. I have seen recalls expanded, so there remains that possibility, assuming the same component parts are involved.

  16. tammy says:
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    Def having this problem as well and when i call dealer and manufacturer told there isnt any recall.

  17. Laura Christian says:
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    My daughter was the first one killed when she hit a tree head on and the air bag did not deploy. GM was made aware of the issue, but did NOTHING! I did a lot of research and found that the ignition switch issue was well documented on the NTSB’s website as was the air bag issue. I was given to understand that there was an “acceptable loss of life”. Now that they finally issued a recall, they have met there loss quota.

    • Greg Webb says:
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      Ms. Christian,

      I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine going through what you have. Having been a trial lawyer for 19 years, I have seen no greater loss than when a parent loses a child. There is simply nothing to compare. My first automobile defect case involved a GM product that burned 2 young adults to death because of a defective fuel system, which could have been prevented with a $2.00 part (not exactly rocket science). Those 2 families still grieve, and that was nearly 14 years ago. It is sad when I see such loss that, many times, could have been prevented with a reasonable and cost-effective solution.

      I hope you and your family have been able to function, despite this great loss to your lives.

      Greg

  18. Patty says:
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    I have a 2006 Chevy Cobalt, and I have had the problems described above. Also, my indicator light reads that I need to have my airbag serviced, and then it goes off. My key has been stuck in the ignition, and I’ve had to turn my car on and off numerous times in order to remove it. I have had my car stall going down a steep hill, and was able to safely stop at the end by downshifting on the fly. I can’t let my gas tank get down below an eighth of a tank or it starts to hesitate. All these problems have been looked at by mechanics, and yet I am still having problems. I can’t afford a new car, which would probably have its own issues, so I guess I will have to wait for my letter, and hopefully THEN my car will be worth what I paid for it :/

  19. joyce says:
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    WOW… I have a 2005 chevy cobalt and I thought I was going crazy… I have experienced all of this and no one seems to help… unbelievable

  20. Ashley says:
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    I’m totally discusted with gm and my 2007 poniac g5 I bought, I can’t stand the vehicle, I’m more appalled that I have a baby that drives in my car with me and you hold back important information I almost don’t wanna drive this car anymore and probably won’t… GM YOU SUCK AND ILL NEVER BUY YOUR VEHICLES AGAIN TIME TO SWITCH TO FORD OR DODGE!!!!

  21. Ella says:
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    Wow. I’m so sorry for the lost lives caused because of this that could’ve been avoided! disgusting!
    I’ve been having these and more problems with my 2005 cobalt. Everyone thought I was overreacting when I wanted to stop driving it. So what now?

  22. Lawania says:
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    I was driving my daughters car last evening coming off the interstate ramp and it just died flashers didnt want to work at first had to try several times to restart in the middle of rush hour traffic!!! if my daughter had been driving i worry what I would be saying today!!! Gm needs to fix the problems with their cars ALL the problems. I think i am gonna look for her another car

  23. Lawania says:
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    Just got off the phone with the Chevy dealer and he said the recall hasnt even been funded yet! Really WTF so he said more then likely a month from now I will be able to have it fixed at their expense. He also said but dont worry your car is under recall for an issue with the Power steering assembly and motor you can bring it in for that. Really wow thanks i feel soo safe now

  24. jeff says:
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    my 16 year old daughter has a 2006 cobalt after hearing about recall she has nothing to drive,called gm dealership and they said that we can not have it fixed until april,whats the problem,this is a safety issue they should be fixing them now,we will never have a gm product again

  25. Jo says:
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    My daughter has an 07 Cobalt, 2 door, and she is also experiencing the car shutting down while driving. It has been a headache and a worry. It’s cost several tows and been in several repair shops and the problem is still not solved. I just went online and found out there is a recall on the ignition switch. I called our local GM dealership and was told, yes, there is a recall, but the parts are not available until April. WTH?? He said he would gladly make an appointment to do a diagnostic test on it for about $100.00. What do you do in the meantime?? Keep driving the car and risking your life until the parts come in for the recall?? People have died from this problem, been seriously injured and GM has known about it for some time now. I am so disgusted with this product and would never purchase another one. I want something done now!!

  26. Tiffany says:
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    So I own a 2006 cobalt, how do I know if my car is eligible for a recall? or is it all cobalts from that time period? I’m so confused.

  27. Beth says:
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    My Dad has a 2005 Cobalt. The car has not stopped while driving but will not start at certain times. After taking it many times to try to get the issue diagnosed, They always come up with nothing. He now has a portable battery charger that he keeps in the trunk and has used it many times. GM better get those recall letters out ASAP!

  28. Alana says:
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    I have a 2007 chevrolet cobalt my car keys have fell out the ignition many times in the middle of traffic and the car cuts off. I contacted the dealer and they said “I must’ve pulled the key out!!! So when I saw this on the news I was not surprised at all!!! I contacted the desler this week and he said my car is not on recall!! How many lives will have to be taken before they actually start sending out letters! This is unfair to customers and is nothing to play around with! We purchase cars thinking it is safe and can get in it and be hurt from a defect, that they are taking their time to fix!!! Ill go in get my ignition fixed and pay out of pocket!!! Praying for the families who lost anyone due to this carelessness!

  29. Laura Christian says:
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    Debra Lepak: Please contact me. My daughter also died because of the airbag not going off. lauragipe@yahoo.com

  30. Kelly D says:
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    I heard about this recall and went to the local GM dealership to have this fixed. They told me that the recall hasn’t been funded and the recall isn’t even listed in the computer as of now. They said it could take a year or more for GM to send out recall notices and without a notice, it will not appear in their system. Until it appears in their system, they can’t fix it. This is ridiculous!!! I commute 2 hours a day! I hope I don’t die on the interstate before this is fixed!

  31. Emily says:
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    I’m Emily, I’m 16 years old, and I just got my drivers license. I recently purchased a 2007 Chevy Cobalt LT from a family owned business, thinking that it would be a great first car…starting to rethink that decision. I have a lanyard and a couple of keychains on my key ring, a few weeks ago before I knew about the recall I reached over to buckle my little sister in her carseat and I barely tugged on the lanyard and it jerked the keys out! Not thinking anything of it, I started my car again and went on about my day. After reading this article I’m defiantly contacting the GM company and ordering the parts to fix it. I’m so thankful that nothing happened and I found this article. Defiantly going to spread the word about the recall.

  32. Lisa Lance says:
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    The parts are not available yet and we will be notified when they are available. Ridiculous. They should replace our cars ASAP. It’s bad enough to have to drive worrying about others texting, not paying attention, now our own car could kill us.

  33. mike says:
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    Here’s an idea don’t buy GM’s I am a mechanic they are not of a high quality like the use to be there are other manufacturers that build a better quality car within the same price range.

  34. Laura Christian says:
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    Lawanna: Please contact me at lauragipe@yahoo.com. ABC’s Diane Walters is looking for someone who experienced what you have with the Cobalt. Thank you!

  35. Stacy Davis says:
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    Just purchased my 08 Pontiac go in aug2013.ive experienced the air bag situation.i have no heat,the radios comes on and off.is there anyway I can get rid of car legally?

  36. F. Jackson says:
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    My daughter I had a problem when I purchased her car and tried to return it, but Chevrolet wasn’t having it. The car turned off with her and my grandkids so much, until the fear caused me to just park it. I’ve since purchased another car, but sold the colbalt now that there is recall. I pray that the new owner does not have this problem…by the way I gave him the recall notice.

  37. Harris says:
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    I have a 2007 Chevy Cobalt and was in an accident and my air bags never went off. have problems with it starting. I have not been notified if my car needs to be recalled how do I find out?

  38. Tracy says:
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    I just bought a a 05 Chevy cobalt not knowing it has. All these issue,, I believe the dealer knew before he sold me the car is there anything I can do

    • Greg Webb says:
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      Tracy,

      See a lemon lawyer in your state. Each state has different lemon laws. Consult with a qualified attorney to check out your options. Consider bugging your dealer and GM to death. Be a squeaky wheel.

      Greg

  39. mike says:
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    People read that they supposedly caused deaths and now they say they are worried and complain about GM , I would like to see people sue the beer companies for all the deaths that drunks cause. People want perfection but they themselves are not perfect. Honestly no one really knows that the key moved by itself. It could have been bumped accidently. I am glad there is a recall because hopefully this will fix the key getting stuck which I read a lot of owners have that problem.

    • Greg Webb says:
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      Mike,

      Thank you for commenting. I think the point is, the key should not come out of the ignition if bumped. It is not unusual for a key to be bumped or jostled while in the ignition – every auto manufacturer knows this. Keys should not fall out and then the car shut off. Period. If you think that is acceptable, then I guess you should be driving a Cobalt or G5.

  40. lori kay says:
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    My 08 colbalt received a letter stating that the fuel tank could cause a fire but to only bring it in if you smell gas. (Before or after it explodes) also ignition replaced 3 times and one dealer put in the wrong name and never fixed looking as if my car was never repaired and the others was also I received a flood title for my car it was finally corrected after two attempts,the dealership compensatede with free oil changes and wipers,they wouldn’t let me get the sinthetc oil which I always use without paying extra and told me twice they don’t have the wipers.. mike Savoie is shit shit shit .

    • Greg Webb says:
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      Lori Kay,

      I am sorry about your Cobalt. I would insist the dealer fix that fuel tank immediately. Waiting for a gas smell is the wrong answer. Also, follow GM’s instructions about putting nothing on the ignition key or key ring. Keep bugging your dealer and GM. Be a squeaky wheel.

      It is too bad that you and so many others have to deal with this kind of mess because of GM’s poor design and failure to warn of and correct this problem in a timely manner. GM’s conduct is reprehensible in my view.

      Greg

  41. lori kay says:
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    When sitting in the pass. Seat in my 08 cobalt it doesn’t recognize that someone sits without seat belt on yoy can go for miles before the warning light and dinging noise will start

  42. Dorothy says:
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    My daughter drives a 2005 chevy colbalt which was purchased from a used car dealership Aug 2013. Had shuddering problems, engine light on & off. Dealership replaced transmission, it cont’d. Finally they hooked up to computer and narrowed it down to 16 point connection between transmission & motor. They cleaned corrosion from each point, flashed the computer and car has been fine ever since. I understand ignition switch, steering column & reflectors falling off inside headlights are all under recall? Reflector has fallen off inside passenger headlight. I am concerned after reading these comments, since she has had no other problems, whether it’s worth it taking a chance replacing ignition switch & steering column etc.? These new ignition switches aren’t supposed to have the same problems as ones they are replacing are they? Do you keep taking it back to dealers at no charge as they are under recall if there continues to be problems? My daughter is a new driver

  43. Dorothy says:
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    P.S. She does still occasionally gets a ding ding sound when she’s driving even though she always wears a seat belt.

  44. Geneva Patterson says:
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    My son own a 2006 ss Chevrolet colbalt he was killed in the accident, car flipp several times and he was thrown from the car.His friend said that the streering was hard for him to control.his friend lived. Got a recall on his car after his death. The accident was on Jan. 25th 2009.Got the first recall Feb. 1, 2011 about the power steering assist then March 2014 recall onignition switch. GM this is to many lives lost because of this car. You need to recall all the cars to save peoples lives and their children. I will need get over the lose of my son’s death