General Motors announced its second massive recall in two months on Monday as it works to contain a growing scandal over the safety of its vehicles.
The latest recall of nearly 1.8 million vehicles linked to three new problems comes as a result of an internal probe into why it took the largest US automaker so long to acknowledge a deadly ignition defect.
GM is currently at the center of multiple investigations by US authorities because it was too slow to react to evidence linking a defective ignition switch to 31 accidents and 12 deaths in its 2005-7 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2003-7 Saturn Ion models.
The problem was detected in the pre-production stage as early as 2001, but GM waited until last month to recall 1.62 million vehicles in North America to correct it.
Monday's recall covered three different defects unrelated to the ignition problems, GM said.
There have been no reports of accidents or injuries as a result of the newly reported defects, GM said.
The ignition problem is the first big crisis for new chief executive Mary Barra, who took the company's helm on January 15 as the first woman to lead a major automaker.
Barra responded forcefully, announcing she would release an "unvarnished" report following a thorough review and vowing to improve how GM handles defect reports.
"Today's announcement underscores the focus we're putting on the safety and peace of mind of our customers," Barra said in a statement Monday.
"I asked our team to redouble our efforts on our pending product reviews, bring them forward and resolve them quickly."
In a video statement to employees, Barra said the federal probes are "serious developments that shouldn't surprise anyone."
"After all, something went wrong with our process in this instance and terrible things happened," she said.
Barra's transparency recognizes the damage the company could face after painstakingly rebuilding its reputation following a 2009 government-backed bankruptcy restructuring.
Japanese rival Toyota recalled some 12 million vehicles worldwide at a cost of $2.4 billion in 2009-2010.
Toyota executives were forced to appear at US Congressional hearings, where they were sharply denounced for allegedly hiding and downplaying dangerous defects in some of the company's most popular models.
GM faces only small official fines at the moment: a possible $35 million, minute compared to $155 billion in revenues last year.
However, the automaker said Monday it would take a $300 million charge in the first quarter "primarily for the cost of the repairs for the three safety actions and the previously announced ignition switch recall."
GM's problems could yet spread.
The Center for Auto Safety, a consumer watchdog group, said last week it had found reports of 303 deaths after airbags in GM cars failed to properly deploy in accidents.
GM responded by saying it was "pure speculation to attempt to draw any meaningful conclusions" from the raw data reported to federal safety regulators.
More than 1.5 million of the vehicles recalled Monday were sold in the United States. Nearly 100,000 were sold in Canada and the remainder were sold in other markets around the world.
Of the vehicles recalled Monday, around 1.3 million were due to a defective service air bag warning light that could lead to a failure in the deployment of air bags.
That recall affects Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia models from the 2008-2013 model years, Chevrolet Traverse from the 2009-2013 model years, and Saturn Outlook from the 2008-2010 model years.
A failure to comply with a head impact requirement for unrestrained occupants led to the recall of 355,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana from the 2009-2014 model years.
A problem with a brake booster pump which can allow for corrosion and has been linked to two engine fires in unsold vehicles at dealerships led to the recall of 66,000 Cadillac XTS full-size sedan from the 2013 and 2014 model years.
© AFP 2014