DETROIT — The U.S. government’s auto safety watchdog is investigating whether General Motors acted quickly enough to recall 1.6 million small cars in a case linked to 13 deaths.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Wednesday night.
The agency has the authority to fine GM as much as $35 million under legislation that went into effect late last year.
On Tuesday, GM doubled the number of cars in the recall for faulty ignition switches. The problem has been linked to 31 front-end crashes that caused the 13 deaths.
On Feb. 13, GM announced the recall of 780,000 2005-07 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s. On Tuesday, it added 842,000 2003-07 Saturn Ion compacts and 2006-07 Chevy HHR SUVs, and Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters.
GM says a heavy key ring or jarring from rough roads can cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position and shut off the engine and electrical power. That can knock out power-assisted brakes and steering and disable the front air bags. In the fatalities, the air bags did not inflate