New Ignition Switch Issues Affecting GM Vehicles and Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Arise

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By now, some commentators believed that the GM ignition switch defect would have long faded into the background. However, those who understood the sheer scope of the problem combined with limiting factors such as the availability of repair parts and consumer compliance with the recall, probably correctly expected the massive recall to remain in the news to the present day. However, what is somewhat unexpected is that new ignition switch problems continue to spring up. New problems have been reported on both GM vehicles and in Harley Davidson motorcycles. If you were hurt in a car accident due to a product defect on a GM vehicle or Harley Davidson motorcycle, contact a Philadelphia product liability lawyer of The Reiff Law Firm.

Harley Davidson Addresses Its Own Ignition Switch Problems with Recall

Harley-Davidson has announced a recall affecting more than 10,000 of its Dyna Low Rider motorcycles. Affected units were manufactured between early January 2014 and early April 2016. The defect involves the motorcycle’s ignition switch and electrical system. Apparently, the bike’s vibrations can cause the ignition switch to sustain internal damage. The damage to the switch can cause the bike to stall unexpectedly during operation. Needless to say, a motorcycle that stalls without warning while being ridden significantly increases the risk of a loss of vehicle control and a subsequent crash.

According to the manufacturer, no injuries have been reported in connection to this defect. However, National Highway Safety Administration does state that the problem has resulted in more than 70 warranty claims. Concerned owners of the Dyna Low Rider motorcycles have been advised that a slight hesitation when the bike accelerates through the 4500 – 5500 RPM range may be a sign that the ignition switch has been damaged due to the defect.

GM’s Chevrolet Line Has New Ignition Switch Problem

NHTSA has also issued a warning that certain models of GM’s Chevrolet line may violate the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for “Theft protection and rollaway prevention.” The affected models include 2013-2016 Chevrolet Spark, Sonic, and Trax vehicles. Vehicles with the problem are equipped with the Bring Your Own Media audio system. 317,572 vehicles are believed to be affected by this defect and many ignition switch death claims have been accepted.

Problems with the system include the fact that the firmware in the vehicle’s radio system does not seem to be programmed properly. Thus, the audible warning sound that is supposed to notify a driver that he or she has left a key in the ignition may cease after 10 minutes. Problems with the vehicle also include the fact that the warning sound will not trigger if the door is opened and closed with the keys in the ignition. While the issue is more related to theft protection, it is surprising to see new ignition switch issues slip through the cracks at GM in light of the close scrutiny the automaker is under due to the 2014 consent order the company signed.

NHTSA Extends its Oversight of GM Ignition Switch Recall

Furthermore, drawing from the same 2014 consent order, NHTSA has announced that it will extend its oversight of the GM ignition switch defect to include a third and final year. The agency issued a statement deflecting blame from the automaker stating that “It isn’t that GM has done anything in particular that is to warrant this, it’s just that they think it’s productive, too, and so we’ve extended it for a year.” However, it is hard to fathom that the agency would expend its limited resources if not for concern over how the recall was progressing.

The GM ignition switch defect that was finally brought to light in 2014 had existed for more than a decade. During that time, the faulty part was integrated into an array of GM vehicles. All in all, the defect affected 2.6 million cars and resulted in 120 deaths and 275 injuries. Perhaps regulators are concerned with consumer response rates to the recall. Consumers do not always comply with recall notices and thus, many unrepaired vehicles may remain on the roads. NHTSA may want additional time to address these unrepaired vehicles.

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Alternatively, the extended oversight period has provided the agency with additional leverage over the automaker. Apparently, the disclosures and monthly meeting required under the consent agreement have resulted in GM issuing recalls. NHTSA may be reluctant to give up this additional oversight and persuasive leverage it has over the company.

Contact a Knowledgeable Philadelphia Product Liability Attorney

In any case, an additional year of safety, defect, and recall oversight at GM is a good thing for consumers. Although CEO Mary Barra has promised to overhaul the company’s safety culture, these efforts can take a significant amount of time before they are firmly entrenched in the company culture. The continued disclosures and meetings with safety and risk conscious regulators can only help the company take a more consumer-friendly approach to serious safety defects in its vehicles. For concerns about injuries you’ve sustained from a vehicle defect, contact a Pennsylvania and New Jersey car defect lawyer of The Reiff Law Firm.

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