Federal safety regulators say General Motors knew about an ignition switch defect years before they said they did.

A filing from 2001 shows the automaker knew about the problem.

Twelve deaths and at least 31 crashes are being blamed on the ignition switch, which can wear out if a driver’s key chain is too heavy.

The wear-and-tear can cause the switch to shift from “run” to “accessory” or “off” involuntarily.

The company says drivers shouldn’t put anything on their key rings until the switches are replaced.

GM is also offering free loaner cars and $500 towards a new GM vehicle, but drivers have to ask for the benefits.

To find out if your car is affected, visit the link below:

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