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Auto Safety Recalls: GM Ignition Switch vs. Takata Airbags

As we close in on the last month of the year, two of the major news stories for 2014 involve massive auto safety recalls. The GM ignition switch recall issued in February involved nearly 3 million vehicles and was among more than 70 recalls issued by the troubled American automaker. However, the recent announcement of a recall on vehicles with Takata airbags may dwarf the GM recalls in sheer numbers. Both auto safety recalls stemmed from reports of serious injuries and fatalities from faulty parts.

Auto Safety Recalls For GM Ignition Switches

Among the hundreds of auto safety recalls this year, none has garnered more attention that the GM ignition switch recall. Investigators revealed the problem after finding that the ignition switches in several popular models of small sedans would move from the “ON” to the “ACC” position when the switch assembly was bumped or weighted down by a heavy key chain. The company issued auto safety recalls on the switch when reports surfaced of drivers losing control and the failure of the airbag deployment system when the vehicles lost power.

GM Sets Records For Auto Safety Recalls

While 2014 has been a record year for auto safety recalls across the industry, the automaker that has set a record for most recalls in a year has been General Motors. GM has issued 79 auto safety recalls so far this year, including a recent recall of 1,100 Cadillac Escalade SUVs for problems with its airbags. The automaker’s massive recall of vehicles with faulty ignition switches has led to dozens of lawsuits and at least 35 claims paid off due to fatal accidents. GM has reportedly set aside $400 million to pay off injury and fatality claims, but that amount may rise to as much as $600 million.

Auto Safety Recalls For Takata Airbags

The GM ignition switch problem has largely been isolated to American manufacturers such as GM and Chrysler, but the auto safety recalls related to the Takata airbags has caused concern among both American and Japanese automakers. Studies have found that the chemical used in the airbag deployment system can become highly volatile in humid conditions. The volatile chemical can cause metal and plastic parts of the airbag assembly to send razor-sharp pieces into the driver and front passenger seats. At least five deaths have been attributed to the explosive airbag system.

Takata Airbags Prompt Auto Safety Recalls

Millions of vehicles with the Takata airbag system have been the subject of auto safety recalls. At least 500,000 vehicles from Ford, Chrysler, and GM were subject to the Takata airbag recalls, along with more than 627,000 BMW vehicles made from 2000 to 2006. Most of the major Japanese automakers also used Takata airbags, but the largest number of auto safety recalls has come from Honda. More than 5 million Honda vehicles manufactured from 2001 to 2007, including popular models such as the Accord and Civic, are on the Takata airbag recall list.

Source: Legal Examiner

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