The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been asked to provide an explanation why it took so long for General Motors to recall its 2005-'07 Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007 Pontiac G5 vehicles to replace faulty ignition switches, according to USA Today.
Documents presented in a settled civil lawsuit against the automaker proved the company knew of a potential faulty ignition defect back in 2004, before it even launched the 2005 Cobalt, according to USA Today.
The affected vehicle switches could easily be shaken or "bumped" out of the on position, which could shut the engine off, leading to a loss of power steering and braking assistance, according to CNN.
Airbags also don't work in the event of a collision.
GM has acknowledged that the issue was the reason for at least six deaths in the U.S.
Approximately 619,122 vehicles are affected by the faulty switches.
Lance Cooper, an attorney representing the family of a woman killed four years ago while driving a 2005 Cobalt, is suing the automaker and hopes the NHTSA opens a "Timeliness Query investigation" into Gm over the recall, according to USA Today.
"Testimony of GM engineers and documents produced in Melton v. General Motors et. al., show that the automaker actually knew about the defective ignition switch in these vehicles in 2004 before it began selling" reads a letter to NHTSA from Cooper, according to USA Today.
Federal safety rules state that an automaker must alert the NHTSA "within five business days" after the company finds a safety issue.
The NHTSA has yet to respond to Cooper as of yet, but that doesn't mean they won't.
Last year, the NHTSA fined Toyota approximately 16 million for failing to report a steering wheel issue on some of its trucks.
The maximum fine is now $35 million, according to the NHTSA website.