General Motors said on Thursday it is recalling 778,562 older-model Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 compact cars in North America to correct a condition that may allow the engine and other components, including airbags, to be unintentionally turned off.
In the affected cars from model years 2005 through 2007, the weight on the key ring, road conditions or some other jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position, turning off the engine and most of the car's electrical components, GM said in a statement.
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GM was aware of five frontal-impact crashes and six front-seat fatalities in crashes where the front airbags did not deploy, a company spokesman said. All of the crashes occurred off road and at high speeds, where the probability of serious or fatal injuries was high regardless of airbag deployment, the spokesman said.
Failure to wear seat belts and alcohol use also were factors in some cases, the spokesman said.
GM was also aware of 17 other crashes involving some type of frontal impact and nonfatal injuries where airbags did not deploy, the spokesman said.
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Dealers will replace the ignition switch at no charge, but GM advised that until the fix is made, customers should remove non-essential items from their key rings.
The U.S. automaker said the ignition switch torque performance may not meet company specification. The involved parts are made in Mexico, according to documents filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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Of the affected cars, 619,122 are in the United States, 153,310 are in Canada and 6,130 are in Mexico, the company spokesman said.
The cars in the recall are the Cobalt from model years 2005 through 2007, and the 2007 G5.
GM no longer makes either car.