(NEW YORK) - General Motors’ knew 10 years ago there were problems with some of its cars.
But it didn't take them until now to issue a recall.
What took g-m so long to address the issues?
Allison Kosik explains.
Mary Barra, CEO, General Motors: Something went wrong with our process in this instance and terrible things happened.
That's GM CEO Mary Barra's latest video message to employees of General Motors concerning the recall of 1 point 6 million vehicles that are linked to at least 12 fatalities.
GM announced the action in February, but the problems behind the recall are at least 10 years old.
What took gm so long to issue and address the recall?
Why did federal regulators fail to act?
These are the questions being asked by criminal investigators.
And the families of victims involved want answers as well:
Ken Melton, Daughter died in accident: Even though I knew she was gone, I reached over, I kissed her forehead and whispered in her ear, "Brooke I will vindicate your death."
In 2001, the problem was found in the Saturn ion.
However, internal reports indicate the matter was resolved with a redesigned switch.
But in 2004, another engineer reported bumping the key mid drive and shutting down the Chevrolet Cobalt.
Yet it appears that, not only did GM know so, too, did federal regulators like Joan Claybrook, the former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Joan Claybrook, Former Head, NHTSA: They already knew there were some deaths by 2007 and injuries.
Joan Claybrook, Consumer advocate: A G-M report to the NHTSA reads: "After consideration of the lead time required, cost, and effectiveness of each of these solutions, the [investigation] was closed with no action," NHTSA did not classify it as a safety issue in 2007.
Because, it claimed drivers could still steer and stop the car to safely restart it.
A special accident investigation team went to investigate a crash Wisconsin. And in the course, of doing that, they discovered that the ignition slipped in the accessory position -- means you can run the radio but not car. The Department of Transportation met with General Motors in March of 2007 and talked about it.
That same year GM's legal department opened a file, but didn't notify engineers of the problem.
Peter Valdes-Dapena, Senior Writer, CNNMoney: There's absolutely no reason GM's lawyers should not have notified engineers right away as soon as that case came to their attention.
New GMC CEO Mary Barra served as Vice President of Global Manufacturing Engineering in 2008.
It's unclear when Barra knew of these issues, but she's heading up GM's massive recall just two months into the top job.
She's appointed a new vehicle safety czar.
GM has offered 500 dollars to customers whose cars have been recalled towards the purchase of a new vehicle.
But the company has yet to address liability for any incidents before GM's 2009 bankruptcy.
CNN, New York.