If that happens, the front air bags may not work if there's a crash.
GM recalling nearly 780,000 older compact cars
. That condition would cause the loss of power-steering assist and power-assisted brakes, he said.
Dealers will replace the ignition switch for free, but the timing of the recall hasn't been finalized. The Pontiac G5 is nearly identical to the Cobalt.
GM's Adler said the problem was discovered when the company got reports of crashes in which the air bags did not inflate. Just this week, GM scored well in a J.D. The Cadillac brand had the
third-fewest problems per 100 vehicles, and GM had top-scoring vehicles in eight product segments.
One owner complained to NHTSA in July of last year that the engine stopped several times while a 2006 Cobalt was being driven. Until the problem is fixed, GM is urging owners to remove nonessential
items from key rings.
Shares of GM were down 42 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $35.14 in late-day trading Thursday.
Alcohol was involved in three of the fatalities, and in some cases the occupants weren't wearing seat belts, Adler said.
TOM KRISHER, The Associated PressPosted:Thursday, February 13, 2014, 4:04 PM
The company says six people have died in 22 crashes linked to the problem in Chevrolet Cobalts from the 2005 through 2007 model years, and Pontiac G5s from 2007.
DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is recalling almost 780,000 older-model compact cars in North America because a faulty ignition switch can shut off the engines without warning and cause crashes.
More than 619,000 of the cars in the recall were sold in the U.S., with another 153,000 sold in Canada and more than 6,000 in Mexico, according to the company. According to GM documents filed with
NHTSA, the company knew of the problem as early as May of last year. He also said the rate of complaints was low and wasn't growing.
A heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can move the ignition switch out of the run position, cutting off the engine and electrical power, GM said in statements and documents released Thursday
by the U.S. Power and Associates survey of owners on the dependability of 3-year-old cars. But Adler said the recall didn't take place until now because GM wasn't able to pinpoint the cause until
recently. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But, "this is another example of
how potential engineering flaws from the past can come back to bite an automaker," he said.
The Cobalt has been replaced by a newer model, while the G5 was discontinued with the Pontiac brand.
GM says the six fatalities occurred in five front-end crashes, all of which happened off-road and at high speeds. All but 33,000 of the cars to be recalled are Cobalts. "Lately my car has been dying
while coming to a stop or going to take off," the person wrote. In each case, the ignition switch moved out of the run position, shutting off the engine and electrical power, spokesman Alan Adler
said. "This is really scary when I pull out in busy traffic! I was almost T-Boned one day, but thank goodness I was able to restart my car in time." T-boned refers to a crash in which the front of
one vehicle hits the mid-side of another.
People who complain are not identified by the agency, and the cause of the person's problem was not explained in the complaint.
Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said GM has improved quality in the years since the recalled cars were made