GM recalls 2.7M more cars; industry on record pace - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

GM recalls 2.7M more cars; industry on record pace

Posted: Updated:
DETROIT (AP) - General Motors' efforts to root out lingering safety problems across its wide range of cars and trucks has produced another big recall - and highlights a sudden shift at GM and throughout the industry toward issuing recalls instead of avoiding them.

The nation's largest automaker announced a total of five recalls covering 2.7 million vehicles Thursday. The biggest involves 2.4 million midsize cars from model years 2004 to 2012 with brake lights that can fail.

GM acknowledged it knew about the brake light problem as early as 2008. That year it issued what's known as a technical service bulletin, but that only required dealers to offer to fix the problem if the owner became aware of it. Such bulletins typically cover problems an automaker considers minor, and avoid the larger cost of a recall. But a driver's safety could be jeopardized by unknowingly operating a car with a defective part.

In announcing the recall, GM said the brake light problem has been tied to 13 accidents and 2 injuries.

GM launched a top-to-bottom safety review after recalling 2.6 million small cars earlier this year for faulty ignition switches. GM knew about that problem for at least a decade, issuing service bulletins years before it started to recall the cars. The switch problem, which can unexpectedly shut down a car's engine, has been linked to at least 13 deaths and has prompted multiple investigations, including one by the Justice Department.

"These additional recalls underscore how important it is to keep the pressure on GM to make sure the company is being as transparent as possible," said Sen. Clare McCaskill, D-Missouri, who heads a Senate subcommittee looking into GM's handling of the ignition switch problem.

The recalls could also add to scrutiny of federal safety regulators, who were criticized for their handling of the ignition switch problem. Documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that neither the company nor the government sought a recall to fix the brake light issue despite 1,300 consumer complaints and more than 14,000 warranty claims as of February of last year.

The agency said in a statement Thursday that an investigation it opened into the problem last year influenced GM's decision to recall the cars.

Jeff Boyer, GM's newly appointed safety chief, said GM now will recall cars as soon as it sees a safety problem. The company, he said, has added 35 safety investigators to its team as it sifts through records looking for cars that should have been recalled earlier.

"We're not waiting for warranty trends to develop over time," he said. "It's not only about frequency, it has to be about seriousness of the potential defect as well."

GM has now recalled more than 11 million cars and trucks in the U.S. so far this year, close to its annual recall record of 11.8 million set in 2004.

The auto industry also is on track to set a single-year record for U.S. recalls. Companies have recalled 15.4 million vehicles in a little more than four months, according to government records. The old single-year record for recalls is 30.8 million vehicles in 2004. Toyota, Ford, and Chrysler also have announced sizeable recalls this year.

Industrywide, automakers are moving faster to fix problems than they have in the past in a bid to avoid bad publicity and record fines from government agencies.

"All manufacturers are recalibrating their recall programs to go from 'if in doubt, don't recall' to 'if in doubt, recall,'" said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department made Toyota pay a $1.2 billion penalty and admit to concealing problems with unintended acceleration in its cars and trucks. That fine and the GM investigation - which could bring criminal charges against individuals - have changed the way automakers view recalls.

GM said the recalls announced Thursday also will fix problems with headlamps, power brakes and windshield wipers. The Detroit automaker will take a $200 million charge this quarter, on top of a $1.3 billion charge in the first quarter, mostly to cover the repairs. GM shares fell 1.7 percent to close at $34.36.

The auto industry set the standing recall record in 2004 after U.S. laws were changed requiring them to report more defects to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Experts also blamed the high number on vehicles that rely more heavily on computers, more common parts across each company's model lineup and more safeguards at litigation-sensitive automakers to catch flaws earlier.

____

AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More From wfmj.comHot ClicksMore>>

  • Trump says he doesn't think personal lawyer will 'flip'

    Trump says he doesn't think personal lawyer will 'flip'

    Saturday, April 21 2018 3:35 PM EDT2018-04-21 19:35:33 GMT
    (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In a Monday, April 16, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York. Federal prosecutors said they can give President Donald Trump's person...(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File). FILE - In a Monday, April 16, 2018, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, center, leaves federal court, in New York. Federal prosecutors said they can give President Donald Trump's person...
    President Donald Trump says he doesn't expect personal lawyer Michael Cohen to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen's business dealings.More >>
    President Donald Trump says he doesn't expect personal lawyer Michael Cohen to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen's business dealings.More >>
  • Queen Elizabeth II to attend pop concert for 92nd birthday

    Queen Elizabeth II to attend pop concert for 92nd birthday

    Saturday, April 21 2018 3:25 PM EDT2018-04-21 19:25:18 GMT
    (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP). Britain's Queen Elizabeth raises her glass during speeches at The Queen's Dinner, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace in London, Thursday, April 19, 2018.(Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP). Britain's Queen Elizabeth raises her glass during speeches at The Queen's Dinner, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace in London, Thursday, April 19, 2018.
    Queen Elizabeth II is marking her 92nd birthday with a star-studded concert in London.More >>
    Queen Elizabeth II is marking her 92nd birthday with a star-studded concert in London.More >>
  • Accepting rights award, Kaepernick decries 'lawful lynching'

    Accepting rights award, Kaepernick decries 'lawful lynching'

    Saturday, April 21 2018 3:05 PM EDT2018-04-21 19:05:08 GMT
    (Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP). FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 file photo, a Woodrow Wilson High School football player stands while some of his teammates kneel during the national anthem before their game against Highland High Sc...(Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP). FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 file photo, a Woodrow Wilson High School football player stands while some of his teammates kneel during the national anthem before their game against Highland High Sc...
    Human rights organization Amnesty International has honored former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick with its Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018, lauding his peaceful protests against racial inequality.More >>
    Human rights organization Amnesty International has honored former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick with its Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018, lauding his peaceful protests against racial inequality.More >>
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms