US: defective ignition investigation moves to Chrysler image

General Motors looks to have opened Pandora’s box when it comes to automotive safety, as federal regulators are now looking into potential related problems at another Detroit automaker – Chrysler.

The No.1 US automaker in February started a recall for cars equipped with a defective ignition switch – which caused stalling and the loss of critical safety equipment – and was subsequently probed for the mishandling of the safety crisis by several federal regulators.

Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has turned its attention to a similar potential problem that is said to affect around 1.2 million Chrysler vehicles, with a probe on their own ignition switches.

“As part of NHTSA’s broader efforts to evaluate this issue, the agency examined all major manufacturers’ airbag deployment strategies as they relate to switch position,” and the Chrysler probes are part of NHTSA’s recent “communication with automotive manufacturers and suppliers regarding airbag design and performance related to the position of the vehicle ignition switch.”

While no injuries or fatalities have been reported so far, the NHTSA is probing Chrysler cars in two separate investigations that span across older Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler models, which have possible airbag non deployment due to potentially faulty ignition switches. There were complaints of engine stalling, but so far none involved airbags not deploying.