As details emerge about how General Motors Co dealt with faulty ignition switches in some of its models, car owners are increasingly angry after learning that the automaker knowingly allowed them to drive defective vehicles.
Saturn Ion owner Nancy Bowman of Washington, Michigan, said she is outraged that GM allowed her to drive a "death trap." She said her car had so many ignition problems she was afraid to resell it to an innocent buyer.
She bought the 2004 model car new and still drives it after extensive repairs and multiple run-ins with a Saturn dealer she called dismissive.
"Five times the car died right out from under me after hitting a bump in the road," she wrote in a 2013 posting on a complaint website, arfc.org, that says it sends information to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
"Every time I brought it in they said it was an isolated incident. Couldn't find the problem, so they acted like I was an idiot."
GM recalled 1.6 million cars last month because a faulty ignition switch could turn off a car's engine, disable its airbags and make steering difficult. The recall involves six models from years ranging from 2003 to 2007. The problem has been linked to 12 deaths, the company says.
Documents released by GM this week revealed that the automaker knew about the ignition problem as early as 2001. Auto safety advocates say GM should have ordered a recall years ago, and GM has apologized as investigations by government agencies, Congress and the company itself have multiplied.
Angry customers are taking to social media to vent their frustrations. GM's company Facebook "fan page" is scattered with complaints amid enthusiasts' comments and the company's updates on its activities. Comments on one post this week featuring a photo of a proud owner and his "Chevy Family" of three cars included sarcastic references about the recall.
The financial costs of the recall and GM's legal liability are still being calculated.
Under terms of its 2009 bankruptcy, the "new" GM is not responsible for any legal claims relating to incidents that took place before July 2009. But GM is facing pressure from some consumer groups that say the arrangement would be unfair to victims and want the automaker to establish a trust fund to pay compensation.
Since the recall, GM has said its customers' safety and satisfaction are top priorities.
"We are deeply sorry to our customers and for the circumstances surrounding