General Motors Co. recalled an additional 824,000 vehicles in the U.S. as it continued to deal with the fallout of a faulty ignition switch linked to a series of crashes and at least 12 deaths.
The automaker said it is calling back Chevrolet Cobalts, Pontiac G5s and Solstices as well as Saturn Ions and Skys from the 2008-11 model years. It also recalled the Chevrolet HHR from the 2008-11 model years.
Although the cars were built with an ignition switch that has had no problems, they might have been repaired with faulty switches left in the parts bins at dealers and auto shops, said Jim Cain, a GM spokesman.
"We need to make sure that one of these bad switches did not wind up in one of these newer vehicles," Cain said. "Rather than leave anything to chance we are going to call them back and replace them."
No reports of deaths or injuries are associated with this new group of vehicles, Cain said.
About 95,000 faulty switches were sold to dealers and in the aftermarket. About 90,000 were used in repairs, he said.
Over the last two months, GM has recalled 1.6 million vehicles that were built with the faulty part. The models include 2003-07 Saturn Ions, 2006-07 Chevrolet HHRs, 2006-07 Pontiac Solstices, 2006-07 Saturn Sky models, and 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models. The cars share the same ignition component; none of the vehicles remain in production.
The ignition switches in the recalled vehicles can be inadvertently turned from the "run" position to the "accessory" position while the car is being driven. When this happens, the engine shuts off and safety systems — including power steering, anti-lock brakes and air bags — are disabled. This has led to at least 31 crashes.
Documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that GM knew about the problem a least a decade ago but failed to recall the vehicles.
GM Chief Executive Mary Barra is scheduled to testify about the automaker's actions at congressional hearings next week. Safety regulators and the Department of Justice have opened investigations into why the recalls were delayed.
Owners who may have had a suspect part installed will receive a letter the week of April 21. GM dealers will replace their vehicle's ignition switch free of charge as parts become available. Customers who paid to have ignition switches replaced will be eligible for reimbursement.
To help prevent an inadvertent shift in the switch, GM has asked owners to use a key that is not on a key chain when driving the vehicles.
The recall came just hours after GM told its dealers to stop selling any Chevrolet Cruze cars equipped with 1.4-liter turbo engines on their lots.
The automaker did not provide any information why it issued the order. Automakers typically halt sales of a car if they learn of some safety defect. Sometimes it can be a minor issue that puts the model out of compliance with federal safety regulations.
The stop sale order is for 2013-14 model year Cruze sedans with the gasoline turbocharged engine, not the diesel version, said Alan Adler, a GM spokesman. It amounts to about a third of the Cruze inventory at Chevrolet dealers.
"No other details to share," Adler said.
The Cruze is GM's bestselling compact car in the U.S. It sold nearly 250,000 last year, making it one of the top-selling vehicles in America.