Changes should be coming to the automotive world regarding safety any day…
Consumers are calling for it after General Motors (GM) has shockingly recalled 6 million cars since February 2014 for a variety of reasons including faulty ignition switches. The faulty switches may have been at least part of the reason 13 people died in accidents. As investigations are pending, those switches may turn out to be tied to several dozen deaths.
Consumers are terribly upset with the giant automaker — and for good reason. GM recently admitted to knowing about safety dangers for several years but decided to keep their consumers unaware of the issues, especially in light of their bankruptcy scare. (You know, the one that catapulted United States taxpayers into bailing the corporation out in 2009.)
An article, Why did GM take so long to respond to deadly defect? Corporate culture may hold answer, by Michael A. Fletcher and Steven Mufson for The Washington Post, explains just how absurd the silence from GM was: “The part costs less than $10 wholesale. The fix takes less than an hour. A mechanic removes a few screws and connectors, takes off a plastic shroud, pops in the new switch, and the customer is back on the road.
“It’s relatively cheap and easy to replace the flawed ignition switch that has been blamed for at least 13 deaths, including a fatal June 2013 crash in Quebec newly linked to the defect. Yet General Motors waited more than a decade before recalling 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars.”
Other reasons GM is recalling a slew of cars include: loss of power steering; leaky transmission oil cooler; failing half-shafts on front axles; as well as faulty airbags, brake boosters and non-compliant dashboard material. GM is facing a multitude of federal investigations and lawsuits.
And, that may not be all. As of April 1, 2014, no recalls have yet been put in effective in regard to complaints about brake light malfunctions and brake line corrosion in certain GM models/years, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking at these issues.
Is your car among the recalled? Here is a page set up for the ignition switch recall information by GM. For further recalls, check out the GM site here to input your vehicle brand and VIN number.
Stephanie Conlan of Tomahawk, Wis., doesn’t own one of the vehicles listed (as of yet) for having a faulty ignition switch. However, she’s owned her 2004 Chevrolet Malibu for almost an entire decade, and wonders if perhaps the issue could be a factor with her car’s year and model. (Her 2004 Malibu is currently on recall for power steering issues).
In January 2014, the Malibu wouldn’t start after her husband tried to drive home from work. From what the repairman explained to the Conlans, it sounds like the ignition switch (which triggers the auto theft system) cut off power to the fuel line.
So, her husband had to bum a ride home from work with a friend. Then, the bill came to $250 once the vehicle was towed to a garage miles from his workplace and repaired. The family was out of a car for almost three days as, ironically, their second vehicle had issues that weekend, too.
“… Are they [GM] going to pay my last bill?” Conlan says sarcastically.
Conlan thinks the coincidence with GM’s problems and her Malibu’s recent repair seems fishy. And, perhaps rightly-so, as consumers are wary about GM with the slew of bad publicity. Conlan is currently in the market for buying a newer vehicle anyway, and she vows to never buy a GM vehicle again.
Despite the annoyance and repair costs, Conlan knows she’s fortunate the situation wasn’t worse. What started this slippery slide for GM was that some drivers had the ignition switch situation happen in the middle of their commutes. Their vehicles seized up as the fuel stopped flowing, and they lost their lives. Luckily, Conlan, her husband and two daughters, ages 1 1/2 and 4 years old, weren’t in the middle of a busy highway when their ignition switch failed.
Even if you don’t own one of the many vehicles recalled, you should still be concerned — perhaps furious. Again, more recalls may be coming. And, all of this after taxpayers bailed the company out in 2009… Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Plus, you could have met one of the faulty vehicles ahead of you on the freeway or in the other lane during a family vacation, on the way to work or even the grocery store. (You still may as the recalls are just beginning.)
The other eerie, unsettling thought in the back of consumers’ minds may be, if GM hid these issues, what are other major automakers hiding? Will safety issues be more transparent from now on from all automakers?