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3:33 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

GM chief prepares to testify before Congress on recalls

Members of Congress will have tough questions for the new CEO of General Motors.

Mary Barra is expected to testify in front of the Energy and Commerce Committee next month.

Barra has only been on the job as CEO for three months. Now she’s facing scrutiny for how the automaker handled or mishandled a major safety recall affecting more than 1.5 million cars.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she’s confident in Barra’s leadership.

“It’s very, very important that GM cooperate and they are and that they’re coming forward,” says Stabenow. “If there are problems, they need to get fixed. There’s no question about that. I mean none of us likes to see that happen.”

The problem is a faulty ignition switch. It may have caused more than 30 crashes and 13 deaths.

In some instances, the ignition switches turn off if the key ring has extra weight on it.

The families of three teenagers killed or injured in a 2006 Wisconsin car crash are suing General Motors.

Natasha Weigel and Amy Rademaker died after the crash, which involved a Chevrolet Cobalt. Megan Phillips was injured.

Last month GM recalled 1.6 million Cobalts and other small cars to replace faulty ignition switches. The company has admitted knowing of the problem for at least 11 years.

The switches can slip out of the run position, shutting down the car's engines. That can cut off power-assisted steering and brakes and cause drivers to lose control. It also disables the air bags.

Texas attorney Robert Hilliard says GM was negligent in designing the cars and committed fraud by failing to disclose facts about the defects.

GM would not comment on the lawsuit.