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Should Auto Makers Be Subject to Stricter Auto Defect Laws?

Written by Ankin Law Office

General Motors has recently come under fire for its spate of auto recalls. Just last week it announced that it is recalling 1.5 million vehicles worldwide due to a defect with the cars’ electronic power-steering assist, which can suddenly stop working and make the car harder to steer. This most recent recall brings the total vehicles GM has recalled since February up to a staggering 6.3 million vehicles.

According to ABC News, the initial recall – which included 2.6 million small cars for an ignition switch defect – prompted GM to name a new safety chief and expedite the review of other pending safety inquiries that could lead to recalls. Although no deaths are linked to the most recent power-steering recall, the initial ignition switch defect has been linked to 13 deaths.

According to this article, “lawmakers obtained documents showing how GM had actually looked at possible fixes for the defect in 2005, but determined it would be too expensive to address,” even though the projected cost to fix the ignition switch defect was only 57 cents apiece.

In light of the recalls and fatalities, GM’s CEO Mary Barra testified last week before a House subcommitee, where several lawmakers blasted GM for turning a blind eye on the “death trap” vehicles, and calling on federal regulators to tighten auto defect regulations, namely enacting laws that would require better communication between auto makers and the government.

As this article states, acting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Friedman provided written testimony in advance of the subcommittee hearing indicating that GM had information connecting defective ignition switches to the non-deployment of air bags, but that it didn’t share this information with the administration until recently.

While some auto recalls are for relatively minor problems, some auto defects, such as Toyota’s sudden acceleration problem, the defective generator control modules in the electric car Tesla, or the defective ignition switch in the GM vehicles, can cause significant injuries and deaths. Accordingly, it is critically important that drivers fix auto recall problems. In most cases, an auto defect in an open recall will be fixed free of charge if the vehicle is taken to the manufacturer’s dealership.

Car owners can check the recall status of their vehicle by visiting the Carfax website and entering the vehicle VIN number. Recall status can also be checked at Safercar.gov, which allows consumers to search certain vehicle makes and models, but the website does not provide vehicle-specific recall information.

Common auto defects include:

  • Child safety seats
  • Stability problems/rollovers
  • Defective airbags
  • Car fires
  • Defective seatbelts
  • Tire defects
  • Door latch failure
  • Steering problems
  • Electronic wiring malfunctions
  • Sudden acceleration
  • Defective brakes

Contact an Auto Defect Lawyer

If you have suffered injuries or damages as a result of a defective vehicle, you may wish to consult with an attorney.  The Chicago product liability law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC is dedicated to protecting consumers from dangerous and defective products, including defective vehicles. Contact one of our skilled Chicago personal injury and product liability attorneys at (312) 600-0000 if you would like more information on auto defects and recalls.

Categories: Auto Accidents