Notes from the Editor: Bad News Travels Faster

June 17, 2014

News coverage follows the same pattern regardless of whether it is in print or being broadcast on radio, TV or the internet.  Headlines and feature stories center on the lurid details of violence, warfare, government crisis or weather problems.  Anything of a sensational nature is sure to get front and center attention.  Any articles concerning a human success story can either be found near the back page of a newspaper or as a short closing story on the 10 o’clock news.

So it went with latest revelations concerning GM ignition locks.  During 2012 there were 34,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S.  So far only about a dozen deaths have been possibly linked to a faulty GM ignition lock which was installed in some 2003-2007 GM car models. One or more of the cable news channels apparently had a slow news day and decided to sensationalize a seven-year- old GM problem. Government politicians later chimed right in and hit GM with a hefty $35 million fine.  GM ended up recalling 3.2 million old vehicles and will replace the ignition switch, the ignition lock and the ignition keys.

An interesting development concerns the GM ignition keys.  All GM keys made during the last 30 years have a wide keyhole. The large keyhole allowed any GM ignition key to be easily installed on any sized keyring along with additional amounts of keys.  While driving, the GM key is held in a horizontal position.  If a heavy keyring is positioned on the side of the GM keyhole, it is possible that enough pressure may be exerted on the ignition key so the key will be turned to an OFF position and the engine will stop operating.  Apparently GM realizes that this may be a problem because the recall replacement keys have a very small, centered keyhole.  GM keys with a large keyhole have become instant antiques. 

Our family owns vehicles made by two different companies, one 2008 model and one 2012 model. In both cases the vehicles have proximity ignition systems with pushbutton start. Remotes control locking and unlocking procedures. Current auto-truck manuals from various aftermarket key manufacturers show that many listings for current year models do not exist as an increasing amount of vehicles change to proximity ignition systems. Mechanical key problems caused by the GM recall will certainly hasten this changeover.