At least that's the way it seems as the automaker reviews safety issues across its line-up of cars and trucks in the wake of a mishandled recall of millions of older small cars.
The number of recalls issued this year by the nation's top carmaker rose Tuesday to 29 as GM announced four separate actions affecting 2.4 million cars and trucks. While no fatalities were involved in the latest recalls, the problems were serious enough that GM has temporarily halted sales of the vehicles.
GM has recalled 13.6 million vehicles in the U.S. since early February. That's more than the total number of cars it sold here in the last five years, and already surpasses GM's previous U.S. recall record of 10.75 million vehicles, set in 2004. By comparison, rival Ford has recalled 1.2 million vehicles in the U.S. this year, while Toyota has recalled 2.9 million, according to federal data and the companies.
The parade of bad news is part of the fallout from GM's recall of 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars for defective ignition switches — and a consequence of government regulation. GM says it's redoubling efforts to resolve outstanding safety issues. It's hiring 35 new safety investigators and is issuing recalls one by one, as soon as a decision is made. GM can't wait and announce a group of recalls once a month; it's required by federal law to report defects to the government within five days of discovering them.
A failure to follow that law landed GM in hot water with the government. The company agreed last week to pay a $35 million federal fine for concealing a deadly defect in the ignition switches for more than a decade. GM says at least 13 people have died in crashes linked to the problem, although trial lawyers suing the company say the death toll is at least 53. Congress and the Justice Department have ongoing investigations.
More recalls are likely. GM spokesman Alan Adler said the company is making progress on reviewing older investigations, "but work is continuing."
The recalls haven't yet impacted GM's U.S. sales, which were up 7 percent in April. But Akshay Anand, an industry analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said Tuesday's order to dealers to stop selling the 2015 Cadillac Escalade and 2014 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia until they're repaired could give more buyers pause. The initial recalls covered older models like the discontinued Cobalt; now they're affecting newer models.
Detroit-based GM said it will take a $400 million charge for repairs on all vehicles recalled so far this quarter. That includes the $200 million charge the company announced last week when it issued five recalls covering 2.7 million vehicles. That's on top of a $1.3 billion charge the automaker took for recalls in the first quarter.
The recalls announced Tuesday were:
— 1.3 million Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia crossovers from the 2009-2014 model years and Saturn Outlook crossovers from 2009-2010. GM says the front safety lap belt cables can wear down and separate over time. GM has told dealers they cannot sell new or used models of the vehicles until repairs are made.
— 1.1 million Chevrolet Malibu sedans from the 2004-2008 model years and Pontiac G6 sedans from 2005-2008 because a shift cable could wear out over time. If that happens, the driver may not be able to select a different gear, remove the key from the ignition or place the transmission in park. GM knows of 18 crashes and one injury from the defect.
— 1,402 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESVs from the 2015 model year because a faulty weld could result in partial deployment of the front passenger air bag in a crash. GM has stopped the sale of the models and alerted 224 current owners not to let occupants sit in the front passenger seat until the vehicle has been repaired. GM knows of no injuries related to the defect.
— 58 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickups from the 2015 model year because retention clips attaching the generator fuse block to the vehicle body can become loose and lead to a potential fire. No crashes or injuries are related to the defect.
10 largest GM recalls this year
General Motors issued four recalls covering 2.4 million cars and trucks on Tuesday. That brings GM to a total of 29 recalls of 13.6 million vehicles in the U.S. so far this year. Here are the 10 largest U.S. recalls the company has announced this year.
— 2.4 million midsize cars because the brake light wires can corrode, causing the lights to fail. Includes 2004-2012 Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura.
— 2.2 million small cars for defective ignition switches. The recall (which totals 2.6 million worldwide), includes the 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5; 2003-2007 Saturn Ion; and 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky, and any newer models from 2008-2011 that got the switches as replacement parts.
— 2.2 million small cars to replace ignition lock cylinders so drivers can't remove their keys while the engine is running. Affects the same vehicles involved in the ignition switch recall.
— 1.3 million small and midsize cars because the electronic power assist can stop working. Includes the 2004-2005 Chevrolet Malibu, 2009-2010 Chevrolet HHR and 2008-2009 Saturn Aura.
— 1.3 million crossovers because the front safety lap belt cables can wear down and separate over time. Includes the 2009-2014 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook.
— 1.2 million crossovers because their side air bags, front center air bags and seat belt pretensioners might not deploy if drivers ignore an air bag warning light on their dashboard. Includes the 2008-2013 Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia; 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse; and 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook.
— 1.1 million midsize cars because a shift cable can wear out over time, making it impossible to change gears or remove the key from the ignition. Includes 2004-2008 Chevrolet Malibu and 2005-2008 Pontiac G6.
— 490,000 pickups and SUVs because transmission oil can leak from a fitting and hit hot surfaces, causing fires. Includes the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups and 2015 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon and Yukon XL.
— 303,000 pickups because the exhaust components can overheat and start a fire. Includes the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
— 303,000 vans because the material on the instrument panel might not adequately protect unbelted passengers' heads in a crash. Includes 2009-2014 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.