As well as the switch itself, GM dealers are replacing the lock barrel and keys in a repair expected to take about 90 minutes

As well as the switch itself, GM dealers are replacing the lock barrel and keys in a repair expected to take about 90 minutes

General Motors last night said it had shipped thousands of kits consisting of ignition switches, ignition cylinders and key sets for older model small cars subject to a major recall.

Letters were mailed last week to about 1.4m owners of 2003-2007 models telling them to contact a dealer to book repairs which should take about 90 minutes.

Owners of 2008-2011 models subject to the recall will receive a letter in early May about the recall. Another letter alerting them when parts are available will follow.

These later cars - another million or so - were built with a modified ignition switch assembly but may since have been repaired with one of the original units. As GM has no way to tell which service replacement was used, it decided to recall the lot.

GM said 4,300 authorised service departments are replacing ignition switches that may fail to meet specification. The ignition switch may unintentionally move from the run position to the accessory or off position with a corresponding reduction or loss of power.

Airbags and power steering may also be disabled.

Dealers also are replacing ignition cylinders that can allow removal of the ignition key while the engine is running, leading to a possible rollaway, crash and occupant or pedestrian injuries.

The vehicles covered are model years:

  • 2003-2007 Saturn Ion
  • 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt  
  • 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice
  • 2007-2010 Pontiac G5
  • 2007-2010 Saturn Sky
  • 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR

GM reiterated that, until repairs are made, drivers should remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the vehicle key. Key fobs also should be removed from the key ring.

GM is also recalling around 1.3m vehicles for power steering repairs and some of these are included in the ignition switch recall.

The automaker will announce its first quarter 2014 financial results later on Thursday (24 April) and is expected to have booked a charge of $750m for the cost of the recalls.

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