DETROIT -- General Motors is recalling about 3,300 late-model pickups and SUVs to fix an ignition switch that can slip out of the run position and cause the engine to stall, a problem that mirrors the deadly defect that led GM last year to recall 2.6 million small cars.
In a statement, GM said it is aware of five unintended shutoffs but no injuries or fatalities related to the latest problem, which affects some 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra light-duty pickups and some 2015 heavy-duty pickups, along with ’15 Suburban and Tahoe SUVs.
GM said some of the trucks have an ignition lock actuator gear with an outer diameter that is larger than specifications, which can make it more difficult to turn the ignition key. The key can get stuck in the “start” position, a problem that is more likely to occur with warmer interior temperatures, GM said.
A “significant jarring event,” or a cooling of the cabin, could cause the lock cylinder to move out of “start,” rotate past the “run” position and into the “accessory” position, GM said. That would cut power steering and brakes and deactivate the airbag in certain crashes.
Dealers will replace the ignition lock housing, GM said.
The company said it caught the problem early as a result of its “Speak Up for Safety,” program, an internal reporting system implemented in the midst of last year’s recall that encourages employees to report possible safety issues. The switch defect was reported by an employee who experienced the problem in his own truck, GM said.
GM said it is a different defect than the one that affected older-model Chevrolet Cobalt and other cars, though it can have the same dangerous effect. In the small cars, the ignition switch was flimsy and prone to slipping out of place if jostled.
That problem was linked to 124 deaths and 275 injuries, an independent victims’ compensation fund determined. GM has agreed to pay $625 million to those victims and their families.
An independent investigation found that some GM engineers and lawyers for years failed to elevate the issue to superiors. GM last month agreed to pay $900 million to the U.S. Justice Department to settle related charges.