General Motors announced last month that it is recalling 1.6 million compact cars worldwide to fix faulty ignition switches.
THE ISSUE: At least 12 people have been killed in crashes linked to the defective switches, which can move from the "run" position to "accessory" or "off," shutting down the engine without warning. That can knock out power-assisted steering and brakes and cause drivers to lose control. It also can disable the air bags.
RECALLED VEHICLES: 2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5; 2003-2007 Saturn Ion; 2006-2007 Chevrolet HHR; 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit (Canada); 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstice; and 2007 Saturn Sky.
WHAT OWNERS SHOULD DO: GM dealers will replace the ignition switches for free. The company will contact owners when the switches are available, likely in April. After that, owners can make service appointments to have their switches replaced. GM says the cars are safe to drive as long as owners remove everything from their key chains except the key. But owners who don't want to drive the cars can request loaner cars from dealers until the repair is made.