General Motors has reached a $120-million settlement with 49 US states and the District of Columbia over claims relating to its faulty ignition switches, Reuters reports. The automaker has already paid roughly $2.5 billion in penalties and settlements pertaining to the faulty parts, which have been implicated in 124 deaths and 275 injuries occurring over several years.
The issue prompted a recall that encompassed a total of 2.6 million vehicles.
The settlement stipulates that GM’s dealers cannot sell certified pre-owned vehicles unless recall servicing has been completed, and it requires the automaker to “improve and enhance recall awareness to car owners with open recalls” through a special team.
The defect at fault in these claims was related to the keyed ignition switches GM used in numerous models since the early 2000s, which were especially prone to switching off without warning while the vehicle was in use. The sudden loss of power caused the engine to stop running, resulting in a loss of power steering and power braking at the same time that airbags were disabled.
GM “turned a blind eye for years and chose to conceal the safety defects associated with several models of their vehicles,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a statement. The state attorneys general involved in reaching the settlement with GM said that the automaker was aware of the problem as early as 2004, but took no action, not considering the defect a safety concern.
GM has since taken a number of steps “to ensure the safety of its vehicles,” a GM spokesperson says, including implementing a new organizational structure committed to global vehicle safety, and a program to encourage employees to blow the whistle on potential safety issues.