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Signs stand in front of the General Motors world headquarters complex November 18, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan.
General Motors will have some explaining to do when the Justice Department investigates why it took the company years to recall 1.6 million vehicles after it knew that a faulty engine switch was responsible for the deaths of 13 people.
According to the Associated Press, the department will investigate whether GM broke any laws by taking so long to address the problem.
Compact GM cars including the Chevy Cobalt and the Pontiac G5 and the Saturn Ion from roughly 2003 - 2007 have been recalled after the company admitted that the ignition switch was faulty and could shut off the engine - disabling power-assisted brakes, the airbags and power steering.
Accidents related to the faulty switches have been traced to more than 30 accidents and a dozen deaths. Internal reports from GM show that company executives knew about the problem for years before taking any action.
Why did GM rely on internal investigations after it knew about the accidents? Is there any possibility of GM executives facing criminal charges related to the deaths? What sort of punishment could the Justice Department levy against GM?
Keith Naughton, Bloomberg News Autos Reporter