GM: Drivers should always use lighter key rings

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General Motors said Wednesday that even after the vehicles in its ignition-switch recall are repaired, owners should still have only the key and fob on the key ring.

GM has been telling the owners of the more than 1.6 million vehicles with the faulty ignition switches linked to 12 deaths that until the repairs are made only the key should be on the key ring. That remains largely the case after the fix as well, according to a document filed with U.S. safety regulators.

"We recommend that customers only utilize the key, key ring and key fob (if equipped) that came with the vehicle," GM said in the document filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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That was in response to a question about whether customers can put their heavy key ring back on after the repair is completed.

A GM spokesman said after the repair is completed, there is no danger of the problem reoccurring.

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Automotive research firm said while there is anecdotal evidence owners should avoid too much weight on their key rings, there is no industry standard language on that subject.

The Detroit automaker also said in the filing that it will offer loaner cars in some cases and a $500 cash allowance toward a new vehicle to unhappy owners affected by the recall.

The problems in the affected vehicles in some instances allowed the engine and other components, including front airbags, to turn off while the vehicle was traveling at high speed. GM previously had said there were 13 deaths linked to the faulty ignition switch, but revised that to 12 on Tuesday because it had double-counted one incident.

On Tuesday, a source said federal prosecutors have opened a probe of GM, examining whether the company is criminally liable for failing to properly disclose problems with some of its vehicles that led to the recall. Congressional committees also plan hearings over the recall.

—By Reuters