When General Motors was receiving reports of stalled vehicles—the same vehicles that were found to have an ignition switch defect—nothing was done despite the fact that other manufacturers had issued recalled for their stalled cars.
Automotive News reports that competitors issued “about 90 recalls for similar symptoms during the same period and federal safety regulators opened 42 investigations into stalling.” Only after General Motors began to realize there was an issue with the ignition switches that they began to take things more seriously, and the Feds have accused GM of waiting five more years to issue a recall in February. Up to that point, GM’s only response was a series of service bulletins and a document from June 2005 that stated that a vehicle can shut off if the key and ignition is inadvertently bumped.
The Chrysler Corporation, Honda, Nissan, and others all have recalled vehicles for engine stalling during this period, raising questions why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) didn’t respond to General Motors’ issues. Apparently, the NHTSA was instead focusing on reports of airbags failing to deploy. GM wasn’t clear about the connection between the airbag failure and the ignition switches until 2009. At the time, GM reported the data as “unknown,” and the NHTSA asked GM for more data on two more fatal crashes instead of taking action.