Feds open criminal probe of GM switch recall

5:53 PM, Mar 14, 2014   |    comments
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(NBC News) -- An automotive watchdog group is claiming faulty airbags in General Motors cars are to blame for more than 300 deaths.

The new accusations involve the ongoing recall of the Saturn Ions and Chevy Cobalts for ignition switch problems. The claims came in a letter from the Center for Auto Safety.

The Center is blaming the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and General Motors for not investigating hundreds of crashes that resulted in 303 deaths. In each case, airbags failed to deploy.

The NHSTA said there wasn't enough evidence to warrant an investigation and GM called the report "pure speculation," meaning the numbers alone don't say if the airbag deployment issue is actually connected to an ignition problem GM admitted killed 12 other people.

Though GM knew of the ignition problem back in 2001, it did not recall the cars until last month.

In one of the faulty ignition cases, GM says heavy keys actually "wore out" an ignition switch.

They're now telling customers to avoid extra key weight, extra keys, key chains or trinkets on key rings.

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