Ignition woes go past GM — and keys

This is the ignition switch on a 2003 Saturn Ion. GM says the switch could inadvertently slip into the “accessory” mode, which would stop airbags from deploying in a crash.

Connected Hyperlinks

Related Subjects

Basic Motors is not the only automaker to have a problem with ignition switches that could shut off the engine at highway speeds.

Just a couple of years in the past, Chrysler recalled practically 250,000 minivans and crossovers more than switches that could pop into accessory mode if the essential was accidentally nudged by the driver’;s knee or a rut in the road.

But taking the key out of the equation hasn’;t been a ideal resolution either. Automakers have had safety problems with push-button ignition programs, too, as drivers have struggled to adjust to the interface and the truth that a automobile can keep running right after they leave with the important.

5 many years ago, at the height of Toyota’;s unintended-acceleration crisis, a USA Today headline posed this query: “Is the energy begin-stop button the most unsafe new attribute in automobiles?”

The newspaper mentioned that a driver needed to press the begin/cease button for 3 seconds — “an eternity in a panic predicament” — to turn off the motor vehicle.

Toyota’;s reasoning for the 3-second rule was to avoid an unintentional button press from shutting down the engine on the street, just as an inadvertent bumping of the important may well in a faulty Chevy Cobalt or Saturn Ion.

Individuals have also been hit by automobiles that have been left running when the driver walked away with the essential fob without having placing the vehicle in park. And in one 2012 accident in Boca Raton, Fla., a guy and a woman died of carbon monoxide poisoning after leaving their Mercedes-Benz with a keyless ignition idling in the garage.

“There is no question that [keyless ignition] is here to remain. It is not going away,” stated Sean Kane, president of Security Analysis & Approaches Inc., a Massachusetts consulting firm. “But we’;re upending the human interface with the machine, and that has risks.”

The National Highway Traffic Security Administration proposed new rules for keyless ignitions in 2011 to address these considerations, but hasn’;t finalized them.

Meanwhile, push-button begin systems are rapidly replacing metal keys. Of the 2014 versions tracked by Edmunds, 246 of 345 — about 71 %, up from 6 percent in 2005 — had a push-button method as a common or obtainable attribute.

“It’;s turning out to be like Bluetooth,” says Jake Fisher, testing director at Client Reviews. “You expect it on every single new auto now.”

Kane mentioned metal keys are attempted, tested and successful. It truly is when they are poorly designed that they can turn into unsafe.

In the fall of 2010, Chrysler Group commenced an inquiry into the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan for a issue similar to the one GM discovered in automobiles this kind of as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion. Chrysler had obtained dozens of complaints about stalling, it later on informed regulators.

The organization swiftly identified the dilemma: The ignition could get stuck between positions. If nudged, it could move into “accessory” mode and shut off the engine.

6 months right after its investigation started, Chrysler recalled 248,437 autos from the 2010 model 12 months.

2 rear-end crashes had been linked to the defect, but no a single had been injured or killed, the organization stated in a defect recognize at the time.

As GM did this 12 months, Chrysler told clients then to use their keys with practically nothing attached till the fix was comprehensive.

Because keyed ignitions have been typically dependable more than the decades, safety advocates say, GM need to have linked the dots earlier on its ignition defect.

“Standard ignition switches have been relatively well-vetted as a engineering,” Kane says of GM’;s defect. “What we had right here was just a undesirable design.”

You can reach Gabe Nelson at gnelson@crain.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *