NYT: Regulator didn't act on GM switches despite complaints

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received over 260 complaints about GM's (GM) faulty ignition switches but declined to investigate, an NYT analysis shows. The agency has said that it didn't act because there wasn't enough evidence to show that the problem existed beyond isolated incidents.

GM has said that the defect, which can shut down a car's engine and power system, and disable airbags, is linked to 13 deaths. The company has recalled over 1.6M vehicles because of the problem.

Meanwhile, the WSJ looks at how GM's "bureaucratic complexity" hampered the firm's inability to address the fault much earlier.

"Ross Perot once said that where he came from, if you see a snake, you kill it. But at General Motors, if you see a snake, you hire a consultant on snakes, then you form a committee on snakes, and then you discuss it for a couple of years," the WSJ writes. Perot made the comment over 25 years ago, "but he could have said it yesterday."

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Comments (11)
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
    Ford's ignition switch recalls involved millions more cars, and it too dragged on for a decade And it involved about 5X as many vehicles, many in current production at the time.


    Just sayin,' such things are not just isolated to GM


    9 Mar 2014, 11:09 AM Reply Like
  • ianh007
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
    Re: Ross Perot comment.
    I worked in Asian Semiconductor company for more than 2 yrs and the same could be said of them.
    9 Mar 2014, 11:44 AM Reply Like
  • User 499490
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    "hampered the firm's inability" I'm assuming that was a misstatement.
    9 Mar 2014, 02:31 PM Reply Like
  • The Rebel
    , contributor
    Comments (2819) | Send Message
    I stopped buying GM cars when they refused to recall for serious engine problems on 2.8 and 3.4 liter engines. After two engines failures on the same vehicle, that was enough for me. See ya. Most happy with the two Nissan Maxima's I have now.
    9 Mar 2014, 04:24 PM Reply Like
  • King Rat
    , contributor
    Comments (1822) | Send Message
    So when a Japanese company's car has issues that Car and Driver concluded were driver-preventable, congress holds hearings to demand answers and American press joins in to slam the reputation of the foreign manufacturer.


    When a domestic auto manufacturer has an issue that is not driver-preventable, congress and the press sweep it under the rug despite more related deaths.


    Coincidentally the same government during this time was a primary owner of debt and equity in the US auto manufacturer.


    Possible conflict of interest?
    9 Mar 2014, 05:14 PM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
    King Rat,


    Conspiracy theory issues aside, are you suggesting US regulators should make decisions based on Opinions of Auto magazines, or just sound scientific data?
    9 Mar 2014, 05:19 PM Reply Like
  • phxcrane
    , contributor
    Comments (763) | Send Message
    No I think what he is saying is the government bureaucracy is biased. That is when the UAW is involved.
    9 Mar 2014, 09:18 PM Reply Like
  • Rope a Dope
    , contributor
    Comments (708) | Send Message
    There were close to 2,000 deaths from Government Motor’s sidesaddle gas tanks and no recall was ever ordered for that. If 2,000 deaths didn't bother GM, I'm sure 13 won't.
    10 Mar 2014, 06:09 AM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
    The 13 deaths are speculation assuming they would have survived had their airbags deployed.


    People die sometimes, even when their airbags do deploy.


    They all used to put the tanks behind the seat too. But now they don't do that anymore.


    They used to sell them without airbags too.
    10 Mar 2014, 07:46 AM Reply Like
  • The Rebel
    , contributor
    Comments (2819) | Send Message
    Wow! I sure wouldn't want you on any committee probing GM failures to recall.
    10 Mar 2014, 01:45 PM Reply Like
  • 1980XLS
    , contributor
    Comments (3360) | Send Message
    Joking aside, the process & communication between NHTSA & automakers, appears to need an overhaul & some streamlining.


    They could have sent a memo to customers, telling them to stop hanging bowling balls from their keychains, 'till further notice & analysis.
    10 Mar 2014, 01:56 PM Reply Like
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