DETROIT -

Two Texas law firms have filed class-action lawsuits against General Motors over the ignition switch problem.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is trying to determine when GM knew it had a problem with ignition switches in six now out-of-production models and when GM reported it.

Federal prosecutors have launched a criminal probe into the same two questions, and owners are freaked out to drive a car that could possibly, on its own, switch off the safety systems and airbags won't deploy.

So far, the ignition switch problem is linked to 12 deaths and 31 crashes. That number could potentially go higher.

RELATED: Safety group claims 303 deaths linked to recalled GM cars

GM has already sent out recall notices to 1.6 million owners of 2005-2007 Cobalts, 2007 Pontiac G5s, 2003-2007 Saturn Ions, 2006-2007 Chevy HHRs, 2006-2007 Pontiac Solstices and 2006-2007 Saturn Skys. They will fix the problem and provide loaner vehicles.

One Texas lawyer Friday night said he sees the GM issue with its ignition switches to be far greater than Toyota's issue with sudden acceleration.

"Driving a recalled GM vehicle is like carrying a stick of dynamite with a slow burning fuse -- when it goes off, it will be sudden, violent and deadly," said attorney Robert Hilliard.