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GM recalls another 2.4 million vehicles over safety issues

GM's fourth recall this year brings the total number to a record 13.6 million vehicles

General Motors issued another recall Tuesday that affects nearly 2.42 million vehicles in the U.S., the fourth recall for the automaker this year that brings the total number of recalled vehicles to 13.6 million — a new record.

The recalls announced Tuesday include 1.3 million older-model crossovers with defective front seat belts and 1 million sedans with a shift cable that can wear out. GM is also recalling 1,400 new Cadillac Escalade SUVs with faulty air bags. Fifty-eight new Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD full-size pickups were also recalled because of a retention clip defect that could lead to a fire. No fatalities related to the defects have been reported, according to a GM press release.

The company is issuing the recalls as part of a broader effort to resolve outstanding safety issues more quickly.

GM has been embroiled in a scandal over its failure to disclose a serious defect in some vehicles. The switches in older-model small cars such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion can slip out of the "run" position and shut down the cars' engines. That disables the power-assisted steering and brakes and can cause drivers to lose control. It also disables the air bags.

The company says at least 13 people have died in crashes linked to the problem, but trial lawyers suing the company say the death toll is at least 53.

The company was fined $35 million Friday for concealing the defects for years, and it expects to take a $400 million charge in the second quarter of this year to repair the vehicles.

Besides agreeing to pay the penalty — the largest ever assessed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the maximum amount allowed — GM admitted that it broke the law by failing to quickly tell the government about the problems.

It only started recalling 2.6 million small cars this February, more than a decade after engineers first found a flaw in the switches.

GM is conducting an internal investigation and is also under criminal investigation by the Justice Department. The same team investigating GM was responsible for getting Toyota to pay a $1.2 billion penalty for hiding its acceleration problems from the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA). That investigation lasted for four years.

Two congressional subcommittees have also promised to call GM CEO Marry Barry back to Washington to testify over the safety issues and cover-up scandal.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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