The reason for the ignition switch recall by General Motors is that the vehicles have a defective ignition switch design that prevents the airbag systems from operating safely if a collision occurs. GM also instituted an ignition switch recall for a vehicle defect in which the ignition moves out of the "run" position when the driver bumps the key. The recalls affect more than 10 million vehicles worldwide as of June 2014.
While testing a vehicle in 2004, a GM engineer bumped the key in a Chevrolet Cobalt accidentally, and the car lost power immediately. During 2005, the company received complaints from Cobalt owners with the same experience. By the end of the 2007, GM knew of 10 Cobalt collisions in which airbags did not deploy. GM began recalls in February 2014, starting with approximately 800,000 Pontiac G5 and Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles.
On June 18, 2014, Mary Barra, GM's chief operating officer, testified before a congressional committee panel about the automaker's 10-year delay in recalling 2.6 million vehicles having faulty ignition switches. Primarily because of ignition switch defects, GM recalled another 8.4 million vehicles worldwide on June 30, 2014. The company disclosed that 13 people died due to the ignition switch defect and that the death toll may be higher than 13.
As of December 2014, about 1 million vehicles were still operating with faulty ignition switches. Vehicle owners should take their cars to their dealers to receive free replacements of their equipment. The recalls apply to all 2003 through 2007 Saturn ION, 2005 through 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, and 2006 through 2010 Pontiac Solstice vehicles. All 2007 through 2010 Saturn Sky, 2007 through 2010 Pontiac G5 and 2006 through 2011 Chevrolet HHR vehicles are also included in the recalls.