Chevrolet is one of the oldest car brands in the United States. When it was founded in 2011, there were 270 car brands, only four of which remain in production today, including Chevrolet. The company was founded through collaboration between a French race car driver, Louis Chevrolet and former GM director, Billy Durant, who had been ousted from GM after failing to purchase Ford Motor Company. Chevrolet was set up to compete with his former company. In 1915, Durant and Chevrolet bought GM, but during another economic downturn in the late ‘20s, Durant was again dismissed from the company.
Chevrolet quickly became competitive with Ford and, in 1935, it produced the first ever SUV, called the Suburban Carryall. In the ‘40s, however, Chevrolet had to refocus all of its energy on the war effort, and primarily produced military vehicles. After the end of World War II, Chevrolet continued to expand, offering the first mass produced automatic transition for low-priced cars, and introducing the Impala series in 1958 which became one of America’s bestselling line of vehicles in history.
Today, Chevrolet is sold in 140 countries around the world, with a unit being sold on average every 6.5 seconds. The company offers a remarkably large selection of model options, including 8 sedans, 5 SUVs, 3 trucks, 2 coupes, and 2 convertibles. They are also committed to promoting autonomous driving technology, and they manufacture 3 electric models.
Chevrolet Defects and Recalls
This section by no means represents a comprehensive list of manufacturing and operating malfunctions, and it is advisable to check for complete information on any recalls that may apply to your vehicle in order to quickly and safely address them. The following information, however, compiles some of the current common issues that Chevrolet owners may experience.
Deadly Ignition Defect
Probably Chevrolet’s most famous and most frightening recall concerns millions of Chevrolet vehicles. In February of 2014, Chevrolet first recalled over 600,000 vehicles due to an issue with the ignition which allowed the key to rotate while the car was in operation, potentially powering down the engine and disabling the brakes, power steering, and airbags while the car continued on its trajectory. The original recall included only the 2003-2007 model year Chevrolet Cobalts, and Pontiac G5s, but within a month, millions more vehicles were added for ignition issues and for various other defects. 224 deaths and 175 injuries have been linked to the ignition problem.
Such catastrophic consequences stem from a very tiny component within the car’s ignition column. A mechanism called the “detent plunger” near the back of the ignition assembly was too short, and did not fit tightly into its slot when the key was rotated to the “on” position. The key could therefore spontaneously twist if the driver hit it with a wrist or knee, or if the car passed over particularly rough road. The replacement plunger that GM used to repair the defect is 15% longer than the original one, and keeps the key from inadvertently rotating.
After an extended investigation, GM agreed to set aside $595 million for victims of the faulty ignition, but there are still many personal lawsuits against GM brought by families of deceased or injured parties. GM had detected the problem back in 2001, but, in March of 2005, GM rejected a proposal to fix the ignition because it would be too costly and time-consuming. In July of 2005, the first known death occurred due to the defect, a 16 year old girl from Maryland, the recall began almost 9 years later.
Other 2014 Recalls
In 2014, in the midst of the ignition crisis, GM issued a series of other recalls for various safety issues, including many Chevrolet models. Click here for a full list of the 2014 massive recalls. These included a recall of 200,000 Aveo subcompact cars for potential fire caused by an overheating light in the dashboard. No injuries were reported that were associated with this defect.
The recall list also included a group of 560,000 2014 Chevrolet Sierras and Silverados and 2015 Chevrolet Suburbans and Tahoes, among other GM models. This recall was sparked by a discovered potential for a transmission line leak and ensuing fire.
The recalls affected almost every Chevrolet model, and many models were recalled for multiple issues. The defects include such issues as faulty airbags, rollaway risks, engine fires and explosions, and sudden loss of power steering and braking.
Chevrolet recalled almost 4.3 million vehicles in July of 2016 including the Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban, Silverado 1500 and HD, Corvette, Trax, Caprice PPV, the SS and Spark EV from between the model years 2014 and 2017. The recall was issued due to software glitch which may prevent the airbags from deploying in a crash. This malfunction has caused one death of a driver of a 2014 Chevy Silverado which occurred in May of 2016 when his airbags and seatbelt pretensions did not engage during a crash. GM technicians are instructed to correct the problem by updating the software.
Various Chevrolet vehicles were also involved in a huge series of recalls this year which encompassed 17 automakers who installed Takata airbags inflators in their vehicles. Takata did not implement a particular drying agent or “desiccant” in the production of their airbags, which caused a degradation of the propellant. Over time, this can cause unintended and unsafe airbag explosion which can send shards of plastic shrapnel into the driver’s face while the car is in operation.
The airbags have been linked to 13 deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide. GM has currently recalled 2.5 million vehicles including various Chevrolet trucks and SUVs, and may be forced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall 4.3 million more. There have been multiple lawsuits already against Honda (the most deadly offender) and Takata Corp., brought by families of the deceased, that have settled for undisclosed amounts.
In June of 2016, plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against GM, alleging that the company deceived customers into paying more for emissions-reducing technology on diesel powered vehicles which did not function as advertised. The Chevy Cruze Turbo Diesel, in particular, actually produces illegal levels of pollution such as carbon monoxide, 1.8 to 13.8 times the legal levels, according to the plaintiffs. Allegedly, the emissions-reducing device is programmed to turn off under certain speeds and at certain temperature. The plaintiffs paid an average of $2000 extra on the diesel version of this vehicle, and are seeking compensation for this expense, as well as punitive damages.
Representation for Colorado Personal Injury Victims
When automakers discover a design flaw in their product, we rightfully expect them to make this information public as soon as possible and to fix the flaw to restore safety to their customers. When they don’t, they should be held responsible not only for the safety defect, but also for any damage that the lack of information may have caused. They should not be allowed to conceal information. If you or someone you love is suffering due to the negligence of an automaker, call Jeremy Rosenthal today at (303) 852-2223to schedule a free consultation or contact him online.