GM Recall History


February 13, 2014 – GM recalls 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles for a faulty ignition switch. The ignition switch problem can allow the key to unintentionally slip from its “run” position to the “accessory” position when the car hits a bump or if the keychain is too heavy, causing the engine to shut down and resulting in a loss of power steering, brakes, and safety systems, including the vehicle’s airbags and anti-lock brakes.

February 25, 2014 – GM expands the recall for vehicles affected by the faulty ignition switch, now encompassing 1.4 million vehicles. Affected vehicles include the 2005-2007 Chevy Cobalt, and model year 2003-2007 Pontiac G5, Saturn Ion, Chevy HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.

March 2014 – Federal officials open a criminal probe into General Motors’ ignition switch recall after information comes to light that GM knew about the ignition switch problems in 2004 or earlier. This information was revealed in depositions taken from GM engineers and other officials in a civil trial in 2013. GM engineers admitted to replicating the problem in tests.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may also take some heat for failing to adequately regulate the automaker and protect the general public, as it is intended to do. According to USA Today, “Federal safety official also became aware of some cases of airbag failure and switch problems and told GM in 2007 that there had been fatalities.”

April 18, 2014 – GM recalls 1.2 million Crossover SUVs for possible side-impact airbag defects. The recall includes the 2008-13 Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, the 2009-13 Chevrolet Traverse and the 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook, which are all crossover SUV models. GM says a defect in the wiring in the seat-mounted side airbag may cause the airbag not to deploy in the event of a crash, and may also affect other side-impact crash safety systems.

April 18, 2014 – GM recalls 64,000 Cadillac XTS full-size sedans, model years 2013 and 2014 for overheating brakes linked to two vehicle fires.

April 18, 2014 – GM recalls 303,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans generally used as commercial vehicles. The auto manufacturer says it needs to “rework” the material on the instrument panel to improve safety for passengers who are not wearing a seat belt and may impact the area in a crash.

May 2014 – After review and consultation by NHTSA, GM twice expanded the recall to include a total of 2,190,934 vehicles in the United States. The GM recall covers the 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles.

GM – A History of Recalls

2004 – 3.1 million vehicles: Cadilac Escalade, Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolete Silverado, GMC Sierra

Between 1999 and 2004, 134 customers suffered minor accidents when tailgate cables corroded and failed and tailgates collapsed. According to GM, customers were clearly warned in the vehicles’ operating instructions not to stand on open tailgates, but GM offered to replace the cables in 2004. It’s worth noting that the galvanized-steel cables are fully exposed and in full view whenever the tailgate is operated — it seems a worn cable would be obvious.


When GM introduced its 1980 front-drive “X-Cars” – the Buick Skylark, Chevrolet Citation, Oldsmobile Omega and Pontiac Phoenix – it seemed that finally the company had produced truly contemporary small cars that could compete with the best from around the world. But it turned out that what GM had built were cars destined to be some of the most recalled in history.

According to the NHTSA database, the 1980 Chevrolet Citation has been recalled nine times. Maladies on that car included everything from faulty fuel lines to steering gear that detached from its mounts to coil springs in the front suspension that could slip out of their seats. Many buyers of early X-Cars felt that their cars were spending more time in the shop than on the road.

1981 – 5.8 million vehicles: 1978-‘1 Buick Century and Regal; Chevrolet El Camino, Malibu and Monte Carlo; GMC Caballero; Oldsmobile Cutlass; Pontiac Grand Prix and LeMans

GM recalled these vehicles due to rear-suspension bolt failure. Whether a car is front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive, independent or solid axle, its rear wheels don’t just travel in forward and reverse, they also have to travel up and down to soak up bumps and keep passengers comfortable, all while remaining firmly mounted to the chassis. If any part of the rear suspension fails at speed, the probability of passenger drama is high. With this in mind, GM agreed to replace rear-control-arm bolts on a number of models in early 1980s, when reports surfaced that the bolts could fracture or loosen, leading to a loss of control.

1973-1983 – unknown amount of Chevrolet Trucks

No formal recall was ordered for Chevrolet trucks with side-saddle fuel tanks, but that didn’t stop the controversy from dragging on for years. In 1973, GM engineers designed a pickup with a 20-gallon fuel tank on either side of the pickup. Auto safety groups alleged that the placement made the trucks vulnerable to exploding in a “T-bone” accident, which exposed the tanks to direct impact with another car. The government called on GM to issue a voluntarily recall but GM refused, eventually settling with the DOT. In the settlement, GM pledged $51 million to U.S. safety programs. According to CAS, GM has paid out more than $500 million in settlements to burn victims because of the defect.

1973 – 3.7 million vehicles: : 1971-’72 Buick Centurion, Electra, Estate Wagon, LeSabre and Riviera; Chevrolet Bel Air, Biscayne, Brookwood, Caprice, Impala, Kingswood, Kingswood Estate and Townsman; Oldsmobile 88 and 98; Pontiac Bonneville, Grand Ville and Catalina

These vehicles were recalled due to defective stone-guard assemblies. Large stones could lodge between the steering coupling and the frame of these GM heavyweights, preventing the operator from turning the vehicle to the left. Thankfully, GM remedied the situation with a quick and easy retrofit of a stone-guard assembly.

1971 – 6.7 million vehicles: 1965-’70 Chevrolet Bel Air, Brookwood, Camaro, Caprice, Chevy II, G Series, Impala, Kingswood, Nova, P Series, C Series and Townsman; GMC C Series, G Series and P Series

In 1969, rubber parts in V-8-powered General Motors engine mounts would give out, causing the engine to come free, twist upward and pull open the throttle, resulting in rapid acceleration. It would often disable brake assistance, making it harder to stop the car. By 1971, 172 cases of engine-mount failure had been reported, resulting in 63 accidents and 18 injuries. GM initially resisted a recall, with Edward Cole, GM’s president at the time, claiming that a failing engine mount was no more serious than a flat tire. The government disagreed and GM issued a voluntary recall of 6.7 million vehicles. Curiously, the official GM fix didn’t include replacing the mounts, but simply anchored the engine to the firewall with a cable to prevent the engine from moving under mount failure, a situation that often resulted in unintended and uncontrollable acceleration.

Sources: Fox Business, MSN, Forbes