GM Ignition Switches

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It has been highly publicized that an ignition switch defect affecting millions of General Motors vehicles could deactivate the airbags and cause the engine to shut off suddenly. Less known, however, is that in some General Motors trucks and SUVs manufactured from approximately 2000 until 2012, there is a dangerous and deadly defect in their airbag system that can prevent the front airbags from deploying in certain frontal impacts. During this timeframe, General Motors installed a time limit calibration in the airbag system that depowers the frontal airbags after 45 milliseconds into a collision.

However, during many frontal collisions, the impact is not severe enough to need the deployment of airbags until 45 milliseconds. These types of collisions are commonly referred to as “soft onset” frontal collisions because the initial change in velocity is not severe enough to trigger airbag deployment.Following this initial soft onset, the collision becomes much more severe and seat belts alone cannot protect the occupants General Motors designs its airbags to deploy in a dual stage system. In frontal collisions between 12 to 18 mph, only the first stage airbag is designed to deploy. This depowered airbag is inflated with approximately 60 percent total pressure. In more severe collisions, approximately 18 to 24 mph, the second-stage airbag is deployed, resulting in the fully powered/inflated airbag.

Based on this design, General Motors is aware that occupants require full deployment of frontal airbags in collisions at 18 mph. However, during a significant portion of frontal collisions the change in velocity does not reach the threshold for deployment until after 45 milliseconds. In these collisions, the shut-off timer has depowered the airbags, preventing their deployment, resulting in serious and fatal injuries to the front seat occupants.

Despite knowing about the defect for more than a decade, GM did nothing to fix the fatal flaw that has caused thousands of crashes and killed at least 125 people.

Langdon & Emison represents clients across the country who have been injured by the GM ignition switch defect. For more than 30 years, our firm has earned a nationwide reputation in the field of auto products liability because of the millions of dollars we’ve won in cases involving defective vehicles and an auto manufacturer’s deliberate decision to choose profits before human safety.

airbag+perspectiveThe interior of this vehicle shows that even in a significant wreck, the airbag did not deploy.

Frequently Asked Questions About the GM Ignition Switch Litigation

There are many issues that have arisen during the course of the ignition switch defect litigation; below are answers to the most commonly asked questions from consumers about it:

What is the problem with the defective GM ignition switches?

Changes made to a switch that controls the ignition cause the ignition to turn to the “off” position when the vehicles is in motion, resulting in a loss of power to the brakes, steering and airbags. Motorists can be severely injured or killed if the key or steering column is even slightly touched or jostled.

GM admitted to criminal wrongdoing and agreed to pay a $900 million penalty for failing to report the safety defect to federal safety regulators and misleading consumers about the safety of affected vehicles.

What vehicles have been recalled due to the ignition switch defect?


  • LaCrosse, 2005-2009
  • Lucerne, 2006-2011


  • CTS, 2003-2014
  • Deville, 2000-2005
  • DTS, 2006-2011
  • SRX, 2004-2006


  • Camero, 2010-2014
  • Caprice, 2011-2013
  • Cobalt, 2005-2010
  • HHR, 2006-2011
  • Impala, 2000-2014
  • Malibu, 1997-2005
  • Monte Carlo, 2000-2007


  • Alero, 1999-2004
  • Intrigue, 1998-2002


  • G5, 2003-2010
  • G8, 2008-2009
  • Grand Am, 1999-2005
  • Grand Prix, 2004-2008
  • Solstice, 2006-2010


  • ION, 2003-2007
  • Sky, 2007-2010
  • Vue, 2002-2004

What should I do if my vehicle has been recalled?

Owners of recalled GM vehicles with faulty ignition switches are urged to contact GM immediately about repairs. You can contact GM directly by visiting its corporate website or by calling 800-222-1020. You can also visit for more information about the GM ignition switch recall.

What should I do if I’ve been injured in an accident involving a defective GM ignition switch?

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving a GM vehicle with a defective ignition switch, contact an attorney immediately and make sure the vehicle is preserved. Langdon & Emison provides a free, no-obligation case review for people who may have grounds to file a GM lawsuit. Call our firm at 866-931-2115 or complete an online form.

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