A variety of vehicle flaws can place drivers and passengers at risk, but defective ignition switches are arguably the most dangerous. Depending on the nature of the defect, ignition switch issues can cause engines to shut off or airbags to not be deployed. Additionally, faulty ignition switches may prompt vehicle overheating, and, in rare cases, fires. Many innocent victims have been injured or killed due to hard-to-detect problems with their vehicles’ ignition switches.
In many cases, vehicle manufacturers are fully aware of these defects, and yet, they fail to issue recalls until it is too late. Because manufacturers generally cannot be depended on to issue recalls in an expedited manner, it is up to drivers to pay attention to any unusual behavior and determine whether these peculiarities involve faulty ignition switches. If ignition switch problems are detected, it is important to hold manufacturers accountable.
This can be accomplished with the help of a trusted personal injury attorney.
Symptoms of a Faulty Ignition Switch
Often, it is difficult for drivers to determine whether the ignition switches on their vehicles are defective. A wide array of signs may indicate ignition switch issues, but it is especially important for drivers to watch out for the following symptoms:
- Vehicle stalls while idling
- Vehicle has trouble starting
- Ignition switch is unusually hot when touched
- Oil, brake, and other warning lights do not function correctly
- Violent jerking of the vehicle occurs when the driver tries to start it
Although the aforementioned symptoms may be indicative of ignition switch issues, they may also point to a variety of other problems, including dead batteries or defective starters. In many cases, the process of elimination must be used to determine whether the ignition switch is the real problem.
High-Profile Ignition Switch Cases
Several ignition switch cases have hit headlines as of late; the most noteworthy of these was easily the 2014 GM case that ended with the recall of several models, including the Cadillac Escalade, the Chevrolet Camaro, the Chevrolet Impala, the GMC Sierra, and the Pontiac Grand Am, among others. The vehicles involved in this case were manufactured between 1998 and 2014, with the majority manufactured after 2004. When the initial recall was issued in 2014, GM claimed that 13 people had died due to ignition switch defects, but other reports indicate that this figure was actually closer to 300 deaths, as well as thousands of serious injuries. According to lawmakers involved in the case, the faulty ignition switches could easily have been fixed for just 57 cents each.
GM is one of several manufacturers to issue vehicle recalls prompted by faulty ignition switches. Honda issued a similar recall in 2000, and Ford recalled 8.7 million vehicles with problematic ignition switches in 1996. More recently, Mazda issued an ignition switch recall for 4.9 million vehicles, the majority of which were manufactured during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The recall was prompted by the discovery of excess grease on switches’ electrical contact points.
According to Mazda, continuous use could cause vehicles to overheat and possibly create smoke or fire. Thus far, there have been no associated fires in the United States.
Ignition Switch Defects and Personal Injury Lawsuits
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a faulty ignition switch, it is imperative that you get in touch with a personal injury attorney. Your failure to come forward could ultimately harm many others; in the GM case, vehicles were not recalled until after attorney Lance Cooper sued GM on behalf of a crash victim’s family.
Had a victim or the family member of a victim made earlier efforts to hold GM accountable, dozens of lives could have been saved. In addition to preventing future accidents, your efforts could result in significant remuneration for the physical and emotional suffering you’ve endured due to your vehicle’s faulty ignition switch. Contact our firm today to learn more about ignition switches and personal injury law.