General Motors Co. recalled an additional 824,000 vehicles in the U.S. as it continues 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, Saturn Ions and Skys from the 2008 through 2010 model years. It also recalled the Chevrolet HHR from the 2008 through 2011 model years.
Although the cars were all built with an ignition switch that has had no problems, they might have been repaired with faulty switches left in the parts bins at dealerships 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. Rather than leave anything to chance, we are going to call them back and replace them," Cain said.
No deaths or injuries are associated with this new group of vehicles, Cain said.
About 95,000 faulty switches were sold to dealers and the aftermarket, and about 90,000 were used in repairs, he said.
Owners who may have had a suspect part installed are to receive a letter the week of April 21. GM dealers will replace their ignition switch free of charge as parts become available. Customers who paid to have their ignition switches replaced will be eligible for reimbursement.
To help prevent an inadvertent shift in the swith, GM has asked owners to just use a key without keychain when driving the vehicles.
GM already has issued recalls for 1.6 million vehicles over the last two months 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 all share the same ignition component; none of them remains in production.
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 and the deaths.
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.
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 that 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 and 2014 model year Cruze sedans with the gasoline turbocharged engine, not the diesel version, said Alan Adler, a GM spokesman. It amounts to about one-third of the Cruze inventory at Chevrolet dealers.
"No other details to share," he said.
The Cruze is GM's bestselling compact car in the United States. Nearly 250,000 were sold last year, making it one of the top-selling vehicles in America.