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General Motors is recalling more than three-quarters of a million cars because of safety issues linked to six front-seat fatalities. But GM also blamed some of the deaths in part on drivers themselves.
GM announced that the 778,562 affected cars are at risk for the ignition switching out of the "run" position, turning off the engine "and most of the car's electrical components," Reuters reports.
How do these GM cars suddenly shut off, and which GM vehicles are affected?
The affected cars in the GM recall are at a much higher risk for the ignition switch to move out of the "run" position, shutting off the engine and the car's critical electrical components while the car is in motion. Airbags failed to deploy in some cases, a GM spokesman said.
According to Reuters, GM pointed to "weight on the key ring" or "road conditions" as possible factors leading to the ignition switch's failure. But a GM spokesman also told Reuters that drivers' alcohol use and failure to wear seat belts were also factors in some of the six fatalities.
As the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration begins its own investigation, relatives of those killed in the recall-related crashes could potentially sue GM for wrongful death, claiming that the company violated its duty in releasing a defective and dangerous product. Prior deaths due to defective cars have resulted in multimillion-dollar awards for relatives of those killed by the defect and/or a company's negligence.
Although Reuters reports that GM has laid blame for the ignition switch failure on parts make in Mexico, drivers of affected cars are still entitled to a free repair and replacement of the defective parts.
The recall only involves the 2005 to 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5, models which GM no longer makes. A GM spokesman explained that fewer than 80 percent of the recalled vehicles are in the United States. The remainder are in Canada and Mexico.
Affected vehicle owners should be receiving a letter from GM notifying them if their cars are part of this large recall. GM owners can also visit GM's website and enter their cars' Vehicle Identification Numbers to verify if the vehicles are under recall.
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