A US car giant has recalled nearly a million vehicles globally amid concerns of a potentially deadly ignition fault that can stop a vehicle dead at high speed and disable safety features.

General Motors announced on Friday it was placing notices on 971,000 vehicles, in addition to 1.9m called recalled in February. The new recalls were due to concerns they were fitted with faulty replacement parts, the company said.

At least 12 deaths have been linked to the defect in ignition switches, which when jostled or bumped can switch into "accessory" mode, even at high speed, shutting down the engine and disabling power steering, power brakes and airbags.

The extension on Friday now includes all model of the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky, Pontiac G5 and Pontiac Solstice made from 2003-2011.

The expanded recall follows a Reuters news agency report on Wednesday that it was still possible to buy GM-brand ignition switches carrying the same part number as the product at the centre of the initial recall. 

Faulty models

GM redesigned the faulty part for model years after 2007, but it did not change the part number, and it fears that some
newer-model cars could have been repaired with defective older-model switches.

The February recall sparked investigations by Congress, federal regulators, the Department of Justice over why it took GM so long to address an issue first noted in 2001. 

Mary Barra, the chief executive of GM, said on Friday that "we are taking no chances with safety". She is due to face Congress this week.

GM said owners would be notified by April 21 and repairs would be free "as parts become available". The process will likely take months because of the numbers involved.

The firm also launched a website for concerned owners.

Source: Reuters