DETROIT -- General Motors is replacing ignition keys on its newest trucks because of a design problem that can cause the shift lever to bump the key and shut off the engine.
GM said its investigators determined that the issue was not a safety defect because it occurs only when the driver has a foot on the brake and is shifting gears. Rather than a safety recall, GM issued a technical service bulletin to dealers on Nov. 6, instructing them to replace keys for customers who complain of a problem.
The bulletin covers 2014-15 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups, and the 2015 Chevy Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs. Trucks with keyless start buttons aren’t covered by the bulletin.
“Some customers may comment that if the tilt steering column is in the full-up position and the shift lever is moved between gears, the shift lever contacts the head of the ignition key,” the bulletin says. “Some contact force may rotate the ignition key and shut the engine off. When this condition occurs, the brake pedal was applied.”
“This is a shifting issue (with foot on brake), not a running vehicle issue,” a GM spokesman said in an email.
In February, GM made a production change to the keys to fix the issue. Dealers are to issue a redesigned key to customers who bought their trucks before the redesign and who complain of the problem.
Consumer Reports reported earlier this week the technical service bulletin sent to dealers.
Ignition-switch problems have plagued GM this year, prompting its recall of 2.6 million older small cars for faulty switches that can slip out of the run position, a flaw tied to 36 deaths. Other recalls for similar switch flaws covered another 11 million vehicles.