Regulators Investigating GM on Shift Lever Problem

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Officials with the federal government and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have been looking into automatic shift lever problems with certain General Motors (GM) vehicles that have resulted in at least seven crashes.

The NHTSA investigation started when it became aware of similar problems with GM’s Saturn Azura from 2007 to 2009, which affected almost 89,000 cars. The agency is currently examining to see if the issues affect other vehicles in the General Motors stable. The models under review include 2004 to 2008 Chevy Malibus and the Pontiac G6 (from 2005 to 2008), according to NHTSA documents.

In affected vehicles, the protective casing that guards the floor shift lever for the transmission can potentially corrode, subjecting the cables to abrasive elements. This may cause a car to slip into the wrong gear, or fail to shift entirely.

NHTSA said it had been notified of three crashes (there are officially four filed with GM currently) that were caused by the shift lever problem and one instance of personal injury. In the injury case, a driver put the vehicle in park, exited the car, and was struck by the car when it rolled backwards. Another incident occurred when a driver put the car in park but the transmission stayed in reverse, sending the car backwards into a collision with a building.

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