10 Automakers Sued Over ‘Deadly’ Ignition Flaw

Ten automakers are being sued over keyless ignition systems that allegedly raise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Find out which manufacturers are involved.

10 Automakers Sued Over ‘Deadly’ Ignition Flaw Photo (cc) by dvanzuijlekom

Ten automakers are being sued over keyless ignition systems that allegedly raise the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The federal lawsuit filed by U.S. consumers blames the keyless ignitions for 13 deaths, Reuters reports. It was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit blames the foreign and domestic car manufacturers for allegedly concealing a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning associated with the ignitions, including when vehicles are left in garages attached to homes, Reuters reports:

According to the complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles, carbon monoxide is emitted when drivers leave their vehicles running after taking their electronic key fobs with them, under the mistaken belief that the engines will shut off.

Once a vehicle with keyless ignition senses that an electronic fob is nearby, it can be started with the push of an on/off button rather than the turn of a key.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas “that kills without warning,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan law professor, tells Bloomberg Business that the lawsuit might prod federal regulators to intervene and push for a recall, but it’s unlikely to get as much momentum as lawsuits over ignition switch flaws or exploding air bags:

“The defect is a problem only if a driver doesn’t realize the car is still running. Most drivers know whether their car is running.”

The lawsuit defendants include:

  • BMW, including Mini
  • Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz
  • Fiat Chrysler
  • Ford Motor Co.
  • General Motors Co.
  • Honda, including Acura
  • Hyundai, including Kia
  • Nissan, including Infiniti
  • Toyota, including Lexus
  • Volkswagen, including Bentley

Bloomberg reports that Ford has issued a statement:

“Ford takes the safety of our customers very seriously; the keyless ignition system has proven to be a safe and reliable innovative feature that has been well-received by customers. Ford vehicles equipped with keyless ignition alert drivers when the driver’s door is open and the vehicle’s engine is running.”

Many of the automakers declined to comment to Bloomberg or Reuters. Others could not immediately be reached for comment.

Have you had any experiences with keyless ignitions? Share your story in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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