According to depositions in a civil lawsuit started against General Motors, the company knew of the Chevrolet Cobalt ignition switch problem a decade before issuing the actual recall.
The failure would inadvertently power down the engine mid driving, cutting off the brakes and assisted steering, as well as other essential safety systems like airbags and ABS.
According to a report in USA Today, which obtained documents from a lawsuit that called GM to stand trial for the crash that killed pediatric nurse Brooke Melton in 2010 in her 2005 Cobalt. According to the documents, while testing the car that went on sale in 2004, at least one engineer experienced the problem and GM created a snap-on key cover fix to be installed by dealers only if owners complained about the fault. The mandatory fix for all vehicles was not issued by the automaker until last week.
An additional dealer lawsuit still continues, but GM settled the Melton suit out of court – the terms being of course confidential. The US carmaker issued a recall last week, citing at least six deaths in five Cobalt crashes that saw the airbags failing to trigger because of the switch problem.
In the issued recall, GM would replace the switch in 778,619 of 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and technically similar 2007 Pontiac G5 in the US, Canada and Mexico.