So far, 2014 has not been an easy year for General Motors (NYSE:GM). A series of recalls starting in February has led to millions of its vehicles being the subject of recalls, spanning several brands and many production years. Just this week, more retractions were announced, including inaccurate fuel gauges in SUVs and defective gearshift cables in Saturn cars.
Despite the string of bad news, GM has been able to still see growth. Sales figures were up 7 percent in April, with analysts acknowledging fresh vehicle lineups that have made consumers overlook the recall figures. “GM’s current product portfolio is compelling enough to allow in-market consumers to look past GM’s recall woes,” Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book told The New York Times.
Even though GM seems to have dodged public reprimand for its mistakes so far this year, its negligence has supplied a body count. It is by no means the only vehicle manufacturer to issue recalls this year, with Toyota (NYSE:TM) and Jaguar (NYSE:TTM) also issuing callbacks for defective cars and trucks. But if GM wants to continue to be seen as a leader in American auto manufacturing, and even around the world, the company needs to step up with tighter regulations and more thorough quality assurance measures.
Though there have been many recalls made so far this year by GM, here are the five biggest of 2014 by volume.
5. March 31: 489,936 Vehicles
March 31 was a rough day for GM, as a big recall was announced. The announcement, affecting SUVs and pickups, was the recall of nearly 490,000 vehicles. Models included were Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks, Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe SUVs, as well as the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL.
The main issue plaguing the trucks and SUVs was a fire hazard because of leaking oil contacting hot surfaces due to an oil cooler line not secured to the fitting. People can bring their vehicle to dealers for a free repair. According to Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly, the repair shouldn’t take much time. “If needed, a small pressure ring can be attached to a metal seat that goes into a fitting. The fix is simple, and the ring is easy enough to see that once it is on, technicians will be able to tell without any difficulty that the line is seated,” they said.
4. February 13: 780,000 Vehicles
On February 13, a recall of 780,000 older compact cars was announced, as it had been found that the engine can shut down without warning, leading to disastrous results. There have been a reported 6 deaths as a result of the defect, and another 17 crashes. Vehicles affected in the callback includes 2005-2007 Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compact sedans.
The problem stems from faulty ignition switches that tend to loosen if there is added weight on the driver’s key chain. The added weight puts extra stress on the ignition switch, causing it to become loose. Driving over bumpy roads can also add extra stress on the switch. With a loosened switch, the key has an easier time slipping into the off position, turning the car off while in motion, and turning off all safety features with it.
3. March 17: 1,176,407 Vehicles
GM recalled 1,176,407 SUVs on March 17, affecting models including the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Traverse, and Saturn Outlook. The problem stems from increased resistance on the mounted side impact air bags in the two front seats. Due to the increased resistance, the airbags may not deploy during a collision, as they should.
The problem actually lies within the seat belt pretensioners, which are supposed to deploy in the event of a crash. Due to faulty wiring harnesses, a failure to deploy can occur. As with other recalls, dealers will take care of the issue free of charge in their service departments.
2. April 1: 1,340,447 Vehicles
The beginning of April brought with it a massive recall, affecting more than 1.3 million vehicles currently on streets around the world. A particularly dangerous defect, affected models can experience a sudden loss of electric power steering that can happen at any time. The power steering, which assists drivers when turning the steering wheel, can make it very difficult for drivers to successfully navigate the road, greatly increasing the risk of a collision.
A myriad of vehicles are affected under the recall, mostly older sedans. Models include the Chevy Malibu, Cobalt and HHR, along with Saturn models like the Aura and Ion. The Pontiac G6 is also on the list. Production years for these models range from 2004 all the way up to 2010, depending on which model you have.
Of particular note is that GM did not have the parts on hand to fix the problem immediately at the time of announcement. Drivers are urged to check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for updates.
1. February 10: 2,190,934 Vehicles
In the biggest and most noteworthy recall of the year so far, GM released information revealing that a major issue is plaguing the ignition switch of a great deal of models. Affecting 2.19 million vehicles, this announcement is actually an extension of the third recall on our list, although bringing a lot more vehicles into the fold. As previously mentioned in the third entry, the problem comes as a result of a loosened ignition switch, increasing the risk of the vehicle shutting off whilst in motion that can lead to a failure of safety features. As before, drivers are urged to remove all key rings from their key and take special care when maneuvering inside the car around the ignition switch.
The recall made major headlines, and even prompted GM to build a website to assist worried drivers, and supply instructions on what to do if their vehicle is included. The news has led to frustrated customers and even Congressional hearings, as GM’s decision not to take the proper measures to fix the affected vehicles led to 13 deaths.
Vehicles affected expand on the previously recalled Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 to include multiple other Chevy, Pontiac, and Saturn vehicles.