August 18, 2014 at 7:53 pm

GM's Barra sends letters to 1.9M car owners in ignition switch recall

General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra this month sent letters to about 1.9 million owners affected by GM’s high-profile ignition switch recall of 2.59 million cars, urging them to complete repairs.

One letter went to more than 1 million owners who had not ordered parts through their dealer or online. A second went to about 875,000 owners who had placed parts order, but hadn’t gotten cars fixed. Letters included information about the compensation fund for victims and families harmed by the defective ignition switches. At least 13 deaths are linked to the defect. The fund began accepting claims Aug. 1.

The automaker also is now offering specific ignition switch-related recall information by vehicle model and year on its recall website, gmignitionupdate.com.

The expanded website gives details on ignition switch-related recalls affecting a particular vehicle and what customers should do. It originally was created to get information to customers affected by the recall of 2.59 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other cars for defective ignition switches that can move from the “run” position while driving. When that happens, it turns off the engine and disables power steering and air bags.

The automaker has recalled more than 16.45 million vehicles this year for various ignition switch problems. The website now gives information on related recalls such as the unintended ignition key rotation recall on 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigues and the recall of 2010-2014 Chevrolet Camaros in which the key fob can turn off the ignition if bumped.

The expanded website went live Friday, GM spokesman Alan Adler said. He said it was broadened to “make it easier for customers.” They will be able to register for parts there eventually.

By Saturday, dealers had replaced more than 806,000 ignition switches out of the 2.59 million. More than 13,000 owners have ordered parts by using online resources since April, Adler said. Online ordering was created to give customers another option.

The carmaker also has launched a recall website that allows users to search using the 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN). It is available at recalls.gm.com. Owners or prospective buyers of any GM vehicle can research open vehicle recalls by entering the VIN.

GM wants to replace all of the 2.59 million defective switches. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the average recall completion rate is about 75 percent, but is much lower for older cars. All automakers must provide a free recall search by VIN on their websites by Wednesday; it also will be available at www.safercar.gov.