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NHTSA Opens Probe Into 2014 Chevy Impala Braking Malfunction

April 24, 2014

Trouble continues for General Motors Co. As the defective ignition switch probe continues, another one of the automaker’s cars is currently being investigated.

According to The Detroit News, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has started an investigation into 60,000 2014 Chevrolet Impala sedans. Federal safety regulators were compelled to open a probe after a report about the malfunction of the car’s emergency braking system, which has been linked to a crash.

The single report tells of the “inappropriate activation of the emergency braking system” in a new 2014 model year Impala. According to the report, the driver was in a rental Impala (with 2,500 miles) on March 11 when the driver assist system suddenly activated emergency braking. The complaint stated that the car came at a “complete stop under what the driver considered to be full braking force.”

Fortunately, nobody was injured. No police report was filed.

According to the complaint, the driver encountered a number of events at different locations and road conditions. In one case, the driver noticed three to four beeps from the forward collision avoidance system while driving at 40 mph. Afterward, the emergency brake activated, causing the car to be struck from behind by another vehicle.

The autonomous braking system, a popular safety feature present in most new vehicles, is supposed to help drivers avoid accidents. When the vehicle is about to hit a vehicle or another object in front of it, the system activates the brakes to prevent a collision.

The dealer and GM are aware of the complaint, and the latter has said that it is cooperating with the agency for the preliminary evaluation.

This particular complaint got a swift response from the NHTSA. The agency only received the complaint on March 25th, and already opened an initial investigation three weeks after.

GM has already shipped out to dealers the new ignition switches that will be used to repair the 2.6 million vehicles affected by the recall. However, most of the owners will have to wait to have their vehicles fixed. The Detroit-based carmaker claimed that the owners of the 1.4 million small cars from model years 2003 to 2007 have already been informed that they can schedule repair appointments at dealers. GM admitted that while it has started notifying customers, it will take a long time to notify all affected vehicle owners.

GM’s first quarter profit is expected to be lower due to the massive recall it issued starting February. Analysts believe that GM will post lower earnings because of the high cost of recalling more than two million of its older vehicles. Losses in Europe and problems in other markets may have also affected the company’s profit through the first three months of the year.

In 2013, GM’s first quarter net profit was $1.18 billion. One analyst believes that the automaker will post its lowest earnings since the fourth quarter of 2009, when GM was reorganized after it filed for bankruptcy.

GM estimated the cost of recalling 7 million vehicles, including those with defective ignition switches, at $1.3 billion.

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