In recent news, General Motors has issued a recall for 1.4 Million cars, starting with the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G6s and expanding out into some other models from the mid-2000s. Apparently, if one has too much stuff on one's keyring, hitting bad bumps can cause enough motion to overwhelm the ignition cylinder and turn off the car at speed. Cutting off the ignition switch cuts off the electrical system and assist systems, which disables the airbags and power steering. Thus far, 13 people have died as a result of accidents where black-box analysis shows the electrical systems were not active at the time of the crash.
Lawsuit: GM knew of Cobalt ignition problem in 2004 | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
So first, clean off those keyrings, people! I have never understood why anyone thinks it's a good idea to have several pounds (a couple of kilos) of keys and trinkets suspended several feet high in a movable cylinder supported only by a thin piece of cut brass in the first place, but there are people that drive around looking like janitors and junk collectors for all the keys to old apartments and novelty keychains from vacations long-forgotten they keep on their keys. My mom actually broke the ignition cylinder in one of her cars years ago by doing that very thing. If you have a bunch of crap on your car keys, split it into two rings, discard some of the crap, or something. You have good reason to do so.
Moving on from there, though, I've been following this story a bit, given my interest in the auto industry. Documents and testimony are showing that GM engineers encountered this problem during product testing back then. The company issued a Technical Service Bulletin (an advisory document for dealers highlighting a potential issue and the fix for it) and suggested a guard of some sort as the fix if a customer complained. Of course, now we're 10+ years out from some when some of those cars were even made and when GM first discovered there might be a problem.
Amongst the 13 people killed was a pediatric nurse that was apparently a lovely citizen and a 16-year-old girl that hit a tree while doing 69 mph in a 25 zone while drunk. GM has apologized publicly twice now and are doing an investigation. Of course, there's also this recall.
I post this because I'm curious what normal people think of all this. One of the auto enthusiast sites I follow has been following the story closely, and of course, the commentariat on a site like that... Doesn't necessarily reflect reality (kinda like how we don't necessarily reflect reality when it comes to diapers and the like).
Did GM handle this well? Should they have recalled sooner? Is this just a case of bad luck for a few people that had too much stuff on their keyrings? What are your thoughts?