To help allay fears that cars subject to a wide-ranging ignition-switch recall are unsafe to drive, General Motors today released a video showing how engineers tested a Chevrolet Cobalt to see whether its ignition switch would inadvertently turn off.
In the video embedded below, GM vice president for vehicle safety Jeff Boyer drives a Chevrolet Cobalt through a battery of tests, including hitting potholes, traversing cobblestone streets, and jumping over a high-speed bump, to show that its ignition switch doesn't bump into the off position while driving. GM says it performed 80 such tests with recalled cars and found they are safe to drive -- so long as drivers remove their keychains and don't have any weight hanging on the car's key.
"Despite some extremely challenging road conditions, the single key did not leave the run position," Boyer said in the video. He also reminded customers they should use GM-provided keys that have a small hole, rather than a long slot, for the key chain, as the latter are more likely to move within the ignition switch.
GM provided much of this footage and testing data to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, which reportedly decided not to issue a "do not drive" order for the recalled cars. Earlier this year, two Senators asked NHTSA to legally recommend that owners of recalled GM cars park them until they could be repaired, but the regulatory agency declined.
According to Automotive News, NHTSA said in a letter to the Senators, "Based on the agency’s engineering expertise, our consideration of the nature of the ignition switch defect, and the testing conducted, NHTSA is satisfied that for now, until the permanent remedy is applied, the safety risk posed by the defect in affected vehicles is sufficiently mitigated by GM’s recommended action."
The ignition switch recall, which was first announced in February, affects the 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice, and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky.