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4 months into GM recall, 7% of cars fixed

DETROIT – More than four months after General Motors began recalling 2.6 million small cars to fix ignition switches, the company has repaired 7 percent of the vehicles.

Through Thursday, GM had repaired almost 177,000 of the cars and shipped about 423,000 parts kits to dealers worldwide.

GM said the repairs have been delayed as Delphi Corp., the switch maker, ramps up production of a part for cars that the company is no longer making.

Initially Delphi had only one assembly line building replacement switches, which slowed parts distribution. Now the company has two lines running, and GM expects a third to be operational in late July or early August, spokesman Kevin Kelly said Monday.

“This part wasn’t in production anymore. It’s taken time to get production back up,” said Kelly. GM’s stated goal is to have all 2.6 million replacement parts produced by late October.

Also complicating the ignition switch recall was a separate ignition lock cylinder recall affecting the same vehicles. GM suppliers have had to make both parts, then the company ships them to dealers in a single repair kit.

GM has offered free loaner cars to those afraid to drive their own vehicles. So far it has paid for almost 67,000.

GM began recalling the cars, mainly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions from the 2004 through 2010 model years, in February. The ignition switches can unexpectedly slip from the “run” to “accessory” position, shutting off the engine. That shuts off the power steering and power brakes, making cars harder to control. It also disables the air bags, which won’t inflate in a crash.

GM says the problem has caused at least 54 crashes and 13 deaths, but trial lawyers suing GM say the death toll is more than 60. GM has acknowledged knowing about the problem for more than a decade, yet the cars weren’t recalled until this year.

GM CEO Mary Barra will testify in front of a House subcommittee about the matter for a second time on Wednesday.

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