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GM is under a federal investigation for several faulty ignition switch recalls

Test Crash Dummies
Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

General Motors sent out a recall for 1.6 million vehicles for a faulty ignition switch that has been linked to more than 11 deaths.

Apparently a federal prosecutor launched an investigation because of the slow action by GM, and their inaction after receiving reports about the issue, which seems to be the bigger legal question for the investigation.

The problem with GM's ignition switch is the engine shuts down, but news reports indicate it took GM several years before handling the issue, and when they did -- apparently they never notified owners or the dealerships in a timely manner, and were well passed the legal time limit to report the issue to a federal board.

GM's CEO, Mary Barra, sent out a letter stating, the company went well beyond what experts in the field had recommended, and acted "without hesitation."

Where the legal battle seems to be in question so far is -- how long did GM wait to report the issue to the federal safety board? Federal law states it should be notified within five days after knowledge of a vehicle recall.

Not only is a criminal investigation underway, the National Transportation Safety Administration and Congress have been investigating GM's handling of the recall.

The ignition switch is just the beginning, apparently it could be linked to hundreds of deaths due to other mechanical mishaps that happen when the ignition switch is turned off inadvertently.

In recent reports today, GM might have more than 300 deaths connected to their vehicles for faulty airbags, in two of GM vehicle types, according to UPI business news.

Although the review team hired to conduct an airbag analysis used the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, without reasons of what caused the crash, GM apparently disagrees with their findings, and said it's an assumption.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said, they have not found reason to do an investigation into the airbags. Executive Director of the center, Clarence Ditlow said, "In some instances, single complaints can trigger a recall."

The vehicles involved in the ignition switch issues were placed on Chevrolet HHR, Chevrolet Colbalt, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Ion, and Saturn Sky. The vehicles involved were built between 2003-2007.

The ignition switch could be linked to the airbag issue, because when the ignition switch slips into off while it is being driven, apparently the engine along with safety tools, such as the airbag are also shut off.

"Today's GM is fully committed to learning from the past," Alan Alder, a GM spokesman said.

But will that commitment be enough to ease families who lost loved ones, or ease the minds of potential future GM customers?