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GM recalls nearly 780,000 sedans over ignition shutdowns

A Chevrolet Cobalt is displayed at a dealership on March 2, 2010 in Monrovia, California
A Chevrolet Cobalt is displayed at a dealership on March 2, 2010 in Monrovia, California

General Motors said Thursday it was recalling nearly 780,000 sedans sold in North America for an ignition switch problem that could shut off a moving car's electrical devices, including airbags.

The recall covers Chevrolet Cobalts from the 2005-2007 model years, 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuits, and 2007 Pontiac G5s.

GM said an ignition switch could be jarred from "run" position while the vehicle is operating into "accessory" or "off" position, turning off the engine and other electrical components.

The unintentional shutdown could happen if the vehicle is off-road or even from a heavy key ring, GM said, and one possible result could be airbags not deploying in a crash.

GM said its knows of 22 crashes involving frontal impact where the front seat airbags did not deploy. Six people died in five of the crashes.

GM said all of the fatal crashes "occurred off-road and at high speeds, where the probability of serious or fatal injuries was high regardless of airbag deployment."

In the recall, GM said dealers will replace the ignition switches.

"Until this correction is performed, customers should remove non-essential items from their key ring," the largest US automaker warned.

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