DETROIT — General Motors said Monday that it would recall 3.36 million defective cars worldwide, another low point in the seemingly endless safety crisis that has engulfed the nation’s largest automaker.
Once again, the problem has to do with keys that could suddenly turn off engines and deactivate air bags — a problem similar to the deadly defect that GM failed to address for more than a decade before it began recalling 2.6 million small cars in February. GM has linked at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes to that defect.
The announcement came two days before Mary T. Barra, GM’s chief executive, is to appear before a House subcommittee investigating the defect.
“This latest recall raises even more questions about just how pervasive safety problems are at GM,” said the Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan. “This is not just a Cobalt problem. Drivers and their families need to be assured that their cars are safe to drive.”
GM said it would revamp or replace ignition keys on seven models because of a faulty key design that has been used for years. The company said that keys laden with extra weight — such as additional keys or objects attached to a key ring — could inadvertently switch the vehicle’s engine off if the car hit a pothole, for example.
GM said it was aware of eight accidents and six injuries related to the defect.
As early as 2000, drivers of the Chevrolet Impala and the other newly recalled cars began lodging complaints about stalling with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Alan Adler, a GM spokesman, said the vehicles recalled Monday had different ignition switches and systems from those in the recalled Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions. The vehicles include the Buick Lacrosse, model years 2005-09; Chevrolet Impala, 2006-14; Cadillac Deville, 2000-05; Cadillac DTS, 2004-11; Buick Lucerne, 2006-11; Buick Regal LS and RS, 2004-05; and Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 2006-08.
The Chevrolet Impala is the only model still in production and is sold to daily rental fleets as the Impala Limited.
But it now appears problems in the Cobalt were only the tip of the iceberg. Last week, the company recalled 510,000 Chevrolet Camaros worldwide because keys did not work properly. GM has now recalled about 6.5 million cars this year because of ignition issues.
An internal investigation found GM rife with “organizational dysfunction” that allowed the Cobalt’s defect to go unrepaired for at least 11 years.
Barra has ordered the dismissal of 15 employees, including a vice president for regulatory affairs and at least three senior corporate lawyers. GM has also disciplined five others.