Owners of General Motors (GM) cars and trucks who recently used the automaker’s VIN-entry website to check whether their vehicle is subject to a safety recall are urged to check again or call the company because the website was giving out wrong information to some users.
Federal investigators probing GM’s response to a potentially deadly flaw in the ignition switches of nearly 3 million vehicles said Friday that GM’s website, designed to help consumers through the recall process, isn’t working properly.
GM has recalled about 30 million vehicles in North America this year alone, with about 25.5 million of those in the U.S. Given the sheer number of recalled vehicles and the spectrum of defects, GM set up the website to make it quick and easy for consumers to determine whether their vehicle is subject to one of the safety recalls by entering their vehicle’s VIN.
But according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigators, GM’s VIN-lookup website is telling some consumers that their vehicles aren’t among those being recalled for safety defects when they actually are.
GM said that consumers who entered a VIN for a recalled vehicle for which replacement parts weren’t yet available were informed by the system that their vehicle is not among those recalled for ignition switch problems and other defects.
Nearly 3 million of GM’s recalled vehicles are affected by defective ignition switches that can potentially cause the key to slip out of position while the car is in motion, shutting off power to the engine. Along with a loss of power steering and anti-lock brakes, airbags are also deactivated when the engine turns off.
GM has linked the ignition switch defect to 13 deaths, but most auto and safety experts believe the number of fatalities to be much higher.
“This is a serious safety issue that should be addressed immediately by following GM’s recommendation to ‘use only the ignition key with nothing else on the key ring’ and getting the repairs as soon as consumers receive final notification from GM,” the NHTSA said in a statement.