GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On Thursday, General Motors reported its worst financial results in more than four years, with its profit falling 86 percent to $125 million. That comes after a $1.3 billion charge to cover a series of recalls announced since early February.
Among the recalls: 2.6 million small cars with defective ignition switches, which the automaker has linked to 13 deaths and admitted to knowing about for at least a decade.
GM took a beating over its failure to quickly get dangerous cars off the road. The deadly mistake is a reminder that drivers need to watch out for themselves.
Tim Martin of Quincy isn’t afraid to fight his own fight. The father of two drives his daughters back and forth to school and says he wants to make sure his vehicle is safe.
But he says he now has his doubts after driving down the highway in his 2012 Ford F-150 when he and his children heard what sounded like a shotgun.
“It’s horrible, like I said, the thought that goes through your mind is just instant panic,” Martin said.
And what happened next prompted Martin to contact Target 8.
Martin says the back window of his truck had suddenly burst.
“My 9-year-old and 6-year-old daughter (were) in the backseat, didn’t know what was going on, looked in my mirror and noticed my windshield was blowed up,” Martin said. “It didn’t fall off… just shattered.”
After learning about Martin’s story, Target 8 discovered the West Michigan man is not the only driver who says the window of his or her Ford F-150 blew out on the road.
Target 8 discovered nearly 100 drivers from around the country have complained to the government about the same problem. Some reported their window “exploded,” and that it sounded like a bullet, leaving “shards of glass all over.”
Target 8 discovered the reports on safercar.gov, a website Target 8 uses when tipped off by viewers about potentially dangerous vehicle defects.
After GM’s recall debacle, Target 8 found a complaint filed in 2006 about a double-fatal crash that is now being tied to the defective ignition switch.
Safercar.gov lets consumers see every complaint reported to the feds on every vehicle. Consumers can also file complaints and search for recalls on the site.
The site was launched by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2004 as a way to publicize its New Car Assessment Program. The five-star rating program was designed to improve safety and encourage manufacturers to voluntarily improve their vehicles.
“It’s important for consumers, it’s important for professional technicians to be able to look up information and make sure that they’re using all the resources available to them,” said Chad Lodenstein a professor of automotive technology at Grand Rapids Community College.
The NHTSA says safercar.gov is one of the most popular links on its site. Target 8 directed Martin to it, and after finding out he’s not the only driver who claims to have had the same problem with a Ford F-150, he said he wants answers.
“I’d like to see everybody that has these trucks fixed, have the recall issued and make Ford responsible for this,” Martin said. “I want to see Ford step up to the plate and be responsible for the vehicles they’re putting on the road.”
The automaker sent the following statement to Target 8 late Thursday afternoon:
“Although glass is not covered under warranty, in this case we had offered to cover half the cost of the repair. The customer declined the offer. We use tempered glass in our windows, which meets all NHTSA safety requirements and is designed to reduce the risk of injury from glass by breaking into small pieces.”
To check on a vehicle or report concerns to the NHTSA, go to www.safercar.gov.