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General Motors today said it is recalling 3.4 million cars in North America because bumpy terrain or weight attached to the key could move the ignition switch out of the run position -- the same basic problem that began its recall crisis earlier this year.
GM said it has increased its estimate of recall-related repair charges for the first half of this year to $2 billion, which is $300 million more than its previous figure. The company also announced five additional smaller recalls today.
All told, GM has recalled more than 20 million vehicles in North America this year.
The new ignition recall covers the Chevrolet Impala from the 2006 through 2014 model years, as well as some Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet vehicles from 2000 through 2011. The Impala is the only vehicle that remains in production, though only the "Limited" model sold to car-rental companies is affected, and not the redesigned version of the car.
Instead of replacing the ignition switches, as it is doing for Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, GM said it would give owners either new keys or small plastic inserts for their keys. That means this recall is likely to be significantly less costly for GM and less time-consuming for dealers.
GM said dealers can begin reworking or replacing keys within "the next few weeks" and that owners of the affected cars should remove all items attached to their current ignition keys immediately.
The key insert will convert the long slot in the head of the cars' keys into a smaller, 4 mm-by-6 mm hole. GM offered a similar insert to owners of the Cobalt and Ion beginning a decade ago, though fewer than 500 owners ever received one.
"The use of a key with a hole, rather than a slotted key, addresses the concern of unintended key rotation due to a jarring road event, such as striking a pothole or crossing railroad tracks," GM said in a statement.
The other recalls announced today cover a total of 165,770 vehicles in the United States, including the 2013-14 Cadillac ATS, 2011 and 2014 Cadillac CTS, and some 2015 Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras.
--Nick Bunkley is a reporter for Automotive News.