What's inside GM's recalled ignition switch

We took apart a steering column from a Chevy Cobalt to examine the ignition switch that is the source of GM's 1.5 million vehicle recall.

We recently took a quick trip to a junk yard to get a steering column from a 2007 Chevy Cobalt. The steering column, of course, also comes with the ignition switch that is the source of GM's recent 1.5 million vehicle recall. We dissassembled the switch so you can see the source of the controversy. You can also read a pretty good analysis of the problem at the NBC site, which also has an image of the old part and the revise which we point out in the video. 

Note that in the video, I call it a 2006 Cobalt. I misspoke. It is a 2007 Cobalt switch.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Geoff NH (not verified)
on Apr 11, 2014

Lee, nice video, except you made two errors:
A, the spring loaded pin should have had more detente shape to it.
B, the plastic insert you took out was worm where the spring pin road up and rounded off the detente section- reason for the failure. All the original designs had reinforced plastic or a metal insert.
Just like the Pinto GM saved a few pennies and now must pay Millions of $$$$ to rectify- see Bean counters again cut costs for no real reason than they demand such cost cuts.
Please redo the video again showing the worn plastic detente section with the spring pin in position- maybe the new CEO Ms Mary will take real notice.

on Apr 11, 2014

Really great video..........now I know exactly what the issue is. Sure is great when you can dig into something like this and actually see how such small and inconsequential parts such as a plunger and spring can have such grave consequences.
I had the lumbar support fail in my company car which is a Chrysler Pacifica. The dealer wanted $750 to repair the seat which I knew my company wouldn't go for. I disassembled the seat to find the actuator and managed to disassemble the gearbox to find a broken nylon planet gear and ring gear which locked up the unit. I kept looking until I found a manufacture on the device and then after an internet search found the company and sent them an e-mail. They were apologetic and sent me a new and improved gear set with a grease pack to rebuild the actuator no charge. The unit now works fine for just a little of my time. I have to wonder how many people paid the $750 to have their seats repaired? Design flaws do get incorporated into products we use every day and one can only hope that we don't end up getting injured or killed due to someone's oversight.

Dick Dafforn

on Apr 11, 2014

Lee,
Very cool. I watched the "official" video but was curious to know exactly what these parts looked like. You saved me a few hours of junkyard diving. Keep it up!

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