Late last week General Motors announced it was recalling half a million Chevrolet Camaro models for an ignition switch defect similar to the one which has been linked to 13 deaths in certain GM small cars. The flaw allows for a driver to bump the key with their knee, which may hit it out of place and turn the car off while it is in motion. According to a Reuters report, U.S. safety regulators received a complaint about a Camaro driver being able to accidentally shut the car off with their knee more than a year before GM announced the recall.
About 18 consumers have complained since 2009 about their Camaro engines shutting off or stalling, with the first one describing it being shut off from a knee bump in April 2013.
“When the ignition switch/ key is slightly bumped with knee, the car shuts off. Three times now. Dealership not responsive. Taught my teen drivers what to do if this happens and this saved my daughter’s life when it happened to her,” the complaint said.
GM spokesman Alan Adler said they discovered the ignition switch flaw through internal testing and weren’t personally keeping record of consumer complaints on Camaros.
“We were not tracking complaints for Camaros. Once we look at them, they need to be studied to determine if they are related to a certain cause,” Adler told Reuters. “That is why we have listed the crashes and injuries in today’s release as inconclusive. We know there were no air bag deployments. We are not certain whether this was related to the ‘knee bump’ issue or not.”
To date, GM has received reports of three separate crashes caused by the Camaro ignition switch issue, but no deaths or injuries. One occurred in September 2009 in a 2010 model-year Camaro. The owner was traveling on I-80 towards San Francisco when the car “had 100 percent loss of all power and operating functions,” and ended up being crashed into a guardrail. Two other incidents involved complete loss of power while travelling at highway speeds, which both resulted in crashes.