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Report: NHTSA Could Have Issued GM Ignition Recall Back in 2007

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/16/2014 Erick Ayapana

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been very critical about the way General Motors handled the ignition switch recall, but today the agency is taking fire for its actions. After a months-long investigation, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee released a report detailing the NHTSA’s inability to identify and issue a recall in a timely matter.


The committee’s criticism of the NHTSA reads like a carbon copy of the failures discovered during GM’s own internal investigation completed earlier this year. At least 19 deaths have been attributed to the faulty switch, which allowed the ignition to inadvertently move away from the “run” position, causing a loss of power to a number of vehicle functions including the airbags. 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Sedan Front View© Provided by MotorTrend 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Sedan Front View

The NHTSA “suffered from a lack of accountability, poor information sharing, and a fundamental misunderstanding of the vehicles,” stated subcommittee chairman Tim Murphy in the report.

According to the report, the NHTSA had enough information to issue the recall as early as 2007. By then, the NHTSA had received multiple reports linking the switch to air bags that failed to deploy. The committee also discovered that the NHTSA launched a number of investigations into the switches, but failed to follow up or complete the necessary research needed to issue a recall.

The report also criticizes the NHTSA for not taking corrective actions. The committee concludes that the agency must be held accountable, though it’s still unclear how that will happen or if any agency employees will be singled out. GM CEO Mary Barra has since fired at least 15 employees involved with the faulty switch, which affected over 2.2 million vehicles. Additionally, GM has paid over $35 million in fines.2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Coupe SS© Provided by MotorTrend 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Coupe SS

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing today to discuss the NHTSA’s policies. David Friedman, NHTSA Deputy Administrator, is set to testify, along with other government and transportation officials.

Source: U.S. House Energy and Commerce, Reuters

2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Coupe Front Side View© Provided by MotorTrend 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt Coupe Front Side View

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