General Motors has issued a sweeping recall of 778,562 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s from the 2005 through 2007 model years in North America because of an ignition switch problem.
In these cars, the weight on the key ring and/or road conditions such as going off road, or experiencing heavy jolting, may cause the ignition switch to move out of the "run" position, turning off the engine as well as most of electrical components, including air bags.
According to the Detroit News, GM spokesman Alan Adler said the company is aware of five frontal-impact crashes and six front-seat fatalities in accidents where the front airbags did not deploy.
"All of these crashes occurred off road and at high speeds, where the probability of serious or fatal injuries was high regardless of airbag deployment. In addition, failure to wear seat belts and alcohol use were factors in some of these cases," Adler said.
The GM spokesperson added that the automaker is also aware of 17 other crashes concerning some type of frontal impact and nonfatal injuries in which air bags did not deploy.
Of the 77,562 affected cars, 619,122 units of the Cobalt and G5 are in the States, 153,310 in Canada and 6,130 in Mexico. GM said it will fix the problem by replacing the ignition switch, but in the meantime, it said owners should remove non-essential items that add weight from their key rings.