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GM ignition switch complaints began in 1997

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Owners of General Motors cars began complaining about faulty ignition switches in their vehicles 17 years ago, long before the later ignition switch problems that caused at least 13 deaths.

Reuters reports that there were complaints about models including the 1997 Chevrolet Malibu and the 2000 Chevrolet Impala.

According to some complaints, keys could be pulled out while the car was travelling; keys got stuck in the ignition; and ignition switches failed to start the engine or apparently caused the engine to stall.

GM has recalled more than 28 million cars this year. This includes 8.4 million recalled earlier this week.

The high number of recalls follows a long-running saga over faulty car ignitions. In that scandal, the company delayed recalling Chevrolet Cobalt and other small cars and, as a result, 54 crashes occurred and at least 13 people died.

As a result of the mishandling of the recall, GM sacked 15 of its executives.

The Guardian reports that, according to compensation fund administrator attorney Kenneth R Feinberg, the families of those killed in crashes involving the defective ignition switches could receive at least US $1m ($106m).

The payments to those injured in accidents involving the switches could receive from US $20,000 ($21,000) to tens of millions, depending on their injuries and the amount of ongoing medical care they require.

Despite the scandal and the high number of recalls, GM sold 267,000 vehicles in the US for the month of June, a one per cent rise from the same time last year.

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