April 2, 2014 4:42 pm

Maritime drivers concerned about GM safety recall

DARTMOUTH – Maritime car owners who are driving vehicles affected by a massive safety recall by General Motors say they have noticed changes to their cars over the years.

“I had a big key chain on this and when we were using the car with it, it was going to standard steering. The power steering was stopping and going around,” said Allan Burns, as he sat behind the wheel of his Pontiac G5.

“We’re probably going to stop using this car right now.”

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GM has recalled 2.6 million older model vehicles, including Pontiac G5s, Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, since February over a faulty ignition switch. The switch can cause the engine to be shut off suddenly with a bump in the road or from the driver’s knee, and has been linked to thirteen deaths.

On Monday, GM announced another major recall of 1.3 million cars over power steering issues. Some cars are affected by both recalls.

READ MORE: GM recalls 1.5 million cars for steering defect

Burns has received a letter from GM informing him of the recall, but the replacement part won’t be available until at least next week.

He says the fact GM may have known about the faulty switches for a decade but did nothing about it, is unacceptable.

“[I feel] disgusted, pretty cheated,” he said. “It was my daughter’s car for the longest time and that really got to me. I mean anything could have happened while she was driving it.”

Driving instructor Michael Tops, at Safety Services Nova Scotia in Dartmouth, often practices engine failure scenarios with students.

“The big thing is not panic, think about what you have to do and make it happen,” he said.

Tops showed how the wheel of his vehicle was still able to turn, while the car was in the accessory position.

“It takes a little bit of strength to make it happen but you can still turn the wheel, that’s the mechanical override,” he said. “If you are moving quickly, it’s a little easier but when you’re at slower speeds is when it becomes difficult.”

He advises drivers to try and steer the vehicle to the side of the road before attempting to re-start the ignition.

Meanwhile, a GM dealer in Halifax told Global News it’s unclear when they will receive the parts to fix the affected vehicles.

The company had estimated the ignition switches would be ready by early April.

 

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