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GM Had 2006 Ignition-Switch Remedy Unknown to Most Owners

General Motors Co. took advantage of a regulatory gray area to address an engine defect almost a decade ago, leaving most car owners unaware that their vehicles may have been unsafe.

Rather than issue a recall, GM sent notices to its dealers in 2005 and 2006, telling them that certain models’ ignition switches could unexpectedly shut off, powering down their cars’ engines. According to those non-public bulletins, dealers were to tell drivers to remove unessential items from their key chains. Dealers were also provided with an insert to prevent keys from jostling.