Senator calls on NHTSA to investigate GM steering sensor

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — A Democratic senator is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration why it decided against opening an investigation into an allegedly defective steering sensor on thousands of General Motors Co. vehicles. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent a letter to NHSTA urging the agency to further investigate the sensors and control systems. Reuters first reported last week that the administration would not be opening a formal investigation on the sensor systems after reviewing information in a lawsuit that was filed by the widower of a woman who died in a crash allegedly caused by the faulty sensor. 

A NHTSA spokesperson said in a statement to The Detroit News on Monday that members of its Office of Defects Investigations "used their objective approach in reviewing all available data for severity of outcome and verified frequency of occurrence. With this information, ODI determined that no additional investigation was necessary, but will continue to monitor complaints and other data and take action as required."

Blumenthal wrote NHTSA "inexcusably failed to open an investigation or warn the public. I am therefore requesting all information about the defective safety feature and NHTSA’s inexplicable failure to open an investigation into the matter."

NHTSA received the senator's letter and "looks forward to reviewing it and addressing his questions," the spokesperson told The News.

GM hasn't recalled the vehicles with the sensor, but it has had warranty claims associated with it, Reuters reported in its investigation. About 777,000 vehicles had the sensors including the 2006-2009 Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and Saab 9-7X; 2006-07 Buick Rainier and the 2006-08 Isuzu Ascender.  

"GM teams investigated this incident thoroughly," GM spokesman David Caldwell said in a statement to The News. "The detailed investigations conducted to date have found no accidents reportedly caused by this issue affecting certain vehicles built more than a decade ago."

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