I’m not going to get into what GM did wrong with the whole ignition switch deal. The politicians and lawyers have it now and the only thing you can be sure of is you’ll have to really search the answers out to get a fair understanding of what happened and how everything went down.
What interests me is the mistake the owners of those cars made. That’s right, I’m saying it… the owners of those GM cars that crashed made an egregious error based on vehicular ignorance, call it a mechanical misunderstanding.
The mistake was having too much on the car’s key chain. We’ve all seen someone doing it; twelve keys, a flashlight, a can/bottle opener and a four-foot long lanyard. This is, simply put, too much weight. Over time the weight hanging from your key ring will wear out your ignition system. Notice the word I used was “will”, not may, might or could – that much weight hanging from a vehicle’s ignition will wear it out. Unfortunately, in this case wearing the ignition out meant that something in that ignition broke and caused the vehicle to completely shut down. This caused crashes.
If there’s anything the average car owner can take out of this, it’s this: Don’t overload your ignition with unnecessary weight. On my truck’s key ring I have the ignition key, the key fob and a key for my bike lock. That’s it. I have every one of my other keys on a different key ring. The reality is, while one or two extra keys on the ignition key may not be “that big a deal”, the question is where do you draw the line? How many keys is too much weight? I make the choice of having that one extra key attached to my ignition system because, based on nothing more than an abundance of ignorance, I believe that the one bike lock key won’t cause additional damage or wear – and I am willing to live with the ramifications if I am wrong.
This is the trick to having a smoothly operating ignition system for as long as is mechanically possible: You’re ignition key and key fob should be the only things hanging from you vehicle’s ignition when the key is in the vehicle.
PS. I realize that pointing out the mistakes of people who died because of their ignorance is uncool. GM shares in the fault as well – but only after they figured out there was a problem. The sad fact is this: Based on reports, all thirteen of those people would be alive today if they didn’t have too much weight on their ignition key ring. While I feel for the families of the deceased, the goal of this post is to spread the word, to save others from the same fate – or from having to buy a new ignition system for their vehicle, as the case would more likely be.