Federal regulators are saying that not only are General Motors ignition switches defective, so is the automaker’s website, which is supposed to help consumers determine if they are driving one of the defective cars.
According to a news report in the Detroit Free Press, people who use the GM “VIN look-up” website are told that their vehicles are not part of an active recall if the repair parts are not yet available – even when the cars are in fact being recalled.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that the owners of some GM vehicles are getting inaccurate and misleading information as they try to use the website that is supposed to give vehicle recall information based on the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN.
NHTSA has told GM to fix the website and inform consumers about the problem with the site. Starting Aug. 20, NHTSA is requiring all automakers to provide a free online tool that lets car owners search for recalls using the VIN. Many automakers already do so.
GM Facing Investigations
General Motors is facing a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice after accusations that the automaker covered up the ignition switch defects, which have been linked to at least 13 deaths.
GM documents show that the switch problem was noticed in 2001, but nothing was done to fix it until one of its engineers quietly tried to improve the switch in 2006 under the pretext of fixing a different switch problem.
The defective switches caused the engine to stall and the airbags to disable, which means occupants have less protection in the event of a crash.
Compensation for Victims
GM has created a compensation fund for victims. But, it is not clear how victims will be compensated and how much each victim will receive.
It is also not clear who will determine how much each victim or family will receive and who will make that determination. It is crucial that the automaker fix its website right away to avoid spreading more misinformation about this critical recall to consumers.
Victims who have been injured as the result of a defective GM vehicle would be well advised to contact an experienced auto product liability lawyer who has a successful track record fighting large automakers on behalf of injured clients.