House Energy and Commerce Committee Opens Investigation on GM Ignition-Switch Recall | Edmunds

House Energy and Commerce Committee Opens Investigation on GM Ignition-Switch Recall


Just the Facts:
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee has opened an investigation into the response by General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to the recall of 1.4 million small cars in the U.S. for ignition-switch problems linked to 13 deaths and 31 crashes.
  • "Did the company or regulators miss something that could have flagged these problems sooner?" said Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) in a statement on Monday.
  • GM told Edmunds it will cooperate with the committee.

WASHINGTON The House Energy and Commerce Committee has opened an investigation into the response by General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to the recall of 1.4 million small cars in the U.S. for ignition-switch problems linked to 13 deaths and 31 crashes.

"Did the company or regulators miss something that could have flagged these problems sooner?" said Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) in a statement on Monday.

The committee said it plans "to seek detailed information from both NHTSA and GM and will hold a hearing in the coming weeks."

GM told Edmunds it will cooperate with the committee.

"We are fully cooperating with NHTSA and will do so with the committee, too," wrote Alan Adler, a GM spokesman, in response to an e-mailed query. "We welcome the opportunity to help both parties have a full understanding of the facts."

The recall involves the 2005-'07 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-'07 Chevrolet HHR and Pontiac Solstice, 2007 Pontiac G5 and Saturn Sky and 2003-'07 Saturn Ion. The safety defect concerns a condition in which the vehicle's ignition switch may unintentionally move from the "run" position to the "accessory" or "off" position, resulting in a loss of power.

The defect could cause the airbags not to be deployed in a crash.

"While the recalls were first announced last month, a recent New York Times report claims NHTSA has received a large number of complaints expressing safety concerns and describing these problems spanning over the past 10 years," according to a statement posted on the House Energy and Commerce Committee Web site.

The committee noted that it has been over a decade since the enactment of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (or TREAD) Act, which was passed by Congress after 270 deaths were linked to Bridgestone tires on Ford Explorer SUVs.

"To better protect the public, I sponsored the TREAD Act back in 2000 so that regulators and companies could better identify safety defects in vehicles before they escalated into an ongoing problem," Upton said. "Congress passed this bipartisan solution with the intention of exposing flaws and preventing accidents and fatalities.

"Yet, here we are over a decade later, faced with accidents and tragedies, and significant questions need to be answered."

He added: "Americans deserve to have the peace of mind that they are safe behind the wheel."

The Senate Commerce Committee also is expected to hold a hearing on the matter.
NHTSA has launched a "timeliness" investigation into how GM handled the recall. The automaker has until April 3 to respond to a 27-page list of 107 questions posed by federal safety regulators.

Edmunds says: With Congress getting into the act, consumers should get some answers to the big questions prompted by this GM recall.

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