By on March 18, 2014

Saturn Outlook

As the recall of 1.76 million General Motors vehicles over a faulty ignition switch — a recall possibly prompted by a Georgia lawyer’s own dealings — continues to hammer away at the automaker’s “new” image, and with dealers doing all they can to mend fences between GM and its customers, three separate recalls have been issued to a total of 1.55 million vehicles.

Automotive News and Bloomberg report CEO Mary Barra asked GM executives to bring forward and give more attention to any products under review at a faster clip. The result? A recall affecting the following in the United States market:

  • 303,000 2009 – 2014 Chevrolet Express/GMC Savana full-size vans, whose instrument panels will be “reworked” to meet current crash standards meant to protect unbelted passengers
  • 63,900 2013 – 2014 Cadillac XTS sedans, whose brake boosters may suffer from corrosion issues, leading to overheating; two fires thus far have been linked to the defect
  • 1.18 million 2008 – 2013 Buick Enclave/GMC Acadia/Chevrolet Traverse/Saturn Outlook crossovers, whose wiring harnesses for the seat-mounted side airbags may be pinched, leading to non-deployment

Meanwhile, dealers are preparing for next month, when customers whose vehicles fall under the ignition switch recall will begin arriving to have the issue fixed. Though the repair will take around 30 minutes to complete, customers will be offered loaner cars if needed, as well as towing services and, should the customer wish to replace the car rather than the switch, a $500 discount toward a new car.

In turn, dealers will be at the front line of mending the fence between “New GM” and customers affected by the recall. Sam Slaughter, owner of Detroit-based Sellers Buick-GMC, says dealers will need to place the ignition repairs at the top of their service schedules, as well as lend a sympathetic ear to customers feeling burned by the automaker.

Meanwhile, Virginia-based Chevrolet-Cadillac dealer Jim Stutzman worries the recall, as transparent as it has been as of late, is throwing a spanner into the works:

It seems like every time we start to move forward, another shoe drops that puts us right back into that world view that says “These guys are total screw-ups. They just can’t operate like Honda or Toyota.” It’s a shame.

That said, the recall may have been delayed longer, and affected fewer customers, had not Georgia lawyer Lance Cooper — who had filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against GM on behalf of the family of Brooke Melton, whose 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt lost power due the faulty switch, ultimately leading to her death — pushed U.S. government regulators into looking closer into the issue via a letter issued shortly after the first recall of 800,000 vehicles.

In the lawsuit, Cooper procured more than 32,000 pages of similar lawsuits and other documents, as well as gathered depositions and assessments from several engineers and dealers regarding the switch. The lawsuit was settled last September two months before the suit’s trial date for an undisclosed amount, though a related suit — focused on Thornton Chevrolet and their failure to correct the problem that led to Melton’s death — could still go to trial.

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77 Comments on “GM Recalls 1.55 Million More, Investigations, Fence-Mending Ongoing...”


  • avatar
    rmwill

    Maybe TTAC reader Mark Reuss can provide feedback on what he knew in 2006 when he held this job: Executive director of Global Vehicle Integration, Safety and Virtual Development.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’m not sure about the vans but those other two are vaunted “New GM” products, and both issues sound much more serious than reworking the dash to protect unbelted passengers.

    More recalls coming I suspect.

  • avatar
    raph

    Hmmmm…. this is to bad as GM tries to shake old GM’s image.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    I still don’t believe that your car shutting down equals instant flaming death. Is this an unacceptable manufacturing defect? You bet. But hanging GM on a cross for people’s basic inability to control their vehicles–or at least operate them within their limits–is simply dishonest. Same as the Toyota thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      As has been pointed out in comments on earlier stories, this is not an issue of rampant failure rate, but the potential for these things to happen and loss of life to occur. There are plenty of these parts out there working just fine. Without assigning blame the problem was known about but nothing was done to fix it.

      I did not have a car with the same ignition switch but a very similar era Buick. The detents of the positions were very slack and vague. In the case of that W-body I don’t think it had an issue with turning off due to the orientation of the swtich on the column. It did always feel odd to me.

      When I bought the car they gave me a key and a fob, and a ring. I assumed I could put my other keys on the ring. My salesman had other keys on his ring. I was not told 2 keys is ok, but 3 is too much. I’m all for personal responsibility but it doesn’t seem like there was any sort of guideline and it is well know that people put keys on rings.

      I would also be one of the first to say a driver should know how to stop a “runaway” toyota. Though if my car turned off suddenly and the steering locked I am not sure that I would realize what happened quickly enough to stop bad things from happening. So those two things seem a little different.

      • 0 avatar

        I have a 2005 Ion and just received my Recall letter.
        From the letter:
        “There is a risk,under certain conditions,that your ignition switch may move out of the “run” position,resulting in a partial loss of electrical power and turning off the engine. This risk INCREASES(emphasis mine)if your key ring is carrying additional weight(such as more keys or the key fob)OR(emphasis mine)your vehicle experiences rough road conditions or other jarring or impact related events.”
        I guess I better not hit any potholes,dash over a speed bump and avoid gravel roads :)

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          When the Malibu Maxx article came up, I looked at the Microsoft auto section for it and under reliability, the ignition switch was listed as a problem. I just looked at the reliability of the ’05 Ion, here is what it said:

          “Occasional problems on this vehicle are failures of the Ignition Switch and Body Control Module (BCM). Failure of the Ignition Switch or BCM may prevent the engine from starting. Refer to TSB #04-08-45-005D for further information.”

          I don’t know if the existence of a TSB is good or bad news for GM, or it may be a different problem entirely. The TSB seems to be about setting up the REPLACEMENT ignition switch.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Be nice if they looked into H3T/H3 side airbags going off around turns that have loose gravel on road.
    Supposably the seat frames are too weak and cause the seat frame to trigger the side airbag in an otherwise uneventful turn.

  • avatar

    Timely recalls are really not a big deal and shouldn’t be factored into “reliability” of a car in most cases IMO. We live in a time when machines are computer controlled and computers need updates and changes to fit all consumer and regulatory requirements. The “unbelted passenger” really shouldn’t be a car makers concern IMO, there are laws in most states requiring you to be belted, and if you don’t regardless it’s your choice. You can’t remove all risk from life. 2 fires out of 63k cars is really not bad either, and replacing them due to the risk is fine. Even the side airbag concern, which sounds like the most dangerous, seem to still be based on slim possibilities. Should we really be mad at a automaker for coming across worse case scenarios and then providing a no cost to consumer solution?

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      I feel the same way, I would buy whatever GM or Toyota car I want regardless of these recalls. I do understand the general PR sentiment, as the dealer said above it looks like they “can’t get it right” which is probably more perception than reality but it is what it is.

      FYI I am not totally schooled in FMVSS but there are safety requirments for unbelted occupants, GM doesn’t have a choice the govt requires cars to be safe to a certain standard for unbelted occupant. This is the main reason US cars initially had single stage airbags that hurt short people and kill children, they have to deploy fast enough to protect the unbelted driver to meet standards. I believe dual stage bags with seat track sensors have solved this problem.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I see the media is in GM recall reporting mode. Since the ignition issue made the news it seems that every recall is now a “major blow”. In the meantime Honda recalls nearly a million minivans due the possibility of a fiery death for its occupants and it goes nearly unreported.

    Like the Toyota unintended acceleration story, it never ceases to amaze me how badly even the automotive media reports recall stories.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      For those interested:

      http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-autos-honda-recall-odyssey-minivans-20140317,0,7338708.story

      My props to them for troubleshooting:

      “Honda first noticed the problem in October 2012 when a high demand for fuel pump replacement parts caught the automaker’s eye. By the middle of 2013, Honda determined that an acid found in chemicals used at car washes may be causing the cracks in the strainer and began investigating.

      After several months of testing, Honda concluded this was the source of the cracks, and officially initiated the recall on Friday.”

      • 0 avatar
        caltemus

        The crucial difference is how honda managed the problem. Instead of early reports of issues getting lost in bureaucracy, they were proactive in finding and solving the issue BEFORE any loss of life. Cars cant always be defect free, but the companies should be accountable for finding defects before they fail, i.e. basic engineering.

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        I am not arguing that GM did wrong here but lets put things into perspective: This is about a combination of a worn ignition and large items attached to your key chain can cause the key to fall out of the ignition. My old Datsun used to do the same thing but the engine kept running. GM issued a service bulletin but probably should have done more. The press responded by jumping on the story, many falsely reporting that over 300 people had died in related accidents and suggesting that GM cared more about a few dollars than human lives.

        GM did do wrong but this is more a story about corporate bureaucracy than it is about deliberate wrong-doing but that has never stopped the media from framing the story in the most black and white way possible.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I also agree with you they should have done more, but this isn’t the only “oops” a TSB was issued for which could/should have been a recall.

          There is a known problem with the power steering rack design of some 04ish to 09ish models. I actually experienced this problem while driving but after sensing some wonky steering behavior I was en-route to my shop for a diagnosis when it broke. I lost the ability to turn left just after I made a left and fortunately for me the next turn was a right into the shop at the top of the hill. I bought it as-is used and I was pissed to spend $500 dollars to replace the rack, especially after I learned about the design defect. My now deceased father bought an 07 Ion new and my mother got a letter stating something to the effect of: If your power steering rack needs replaced, get the work done at GM dealership and submit us the bill, we may pay a portion. Maybe this will be next, because AFAIK there was no mandatory recall on the power steering racks of Saturn Ions. Evidently there was one for the other Delta cars:

          http://autos.aol.com/article/gm-recall-power-steering/

    • 0 avatar
      SayMyName

      Recalls are endemic for GM, and the latest has the stench of death around it to encourage widespread media coverage.

      Even after their UA and transmission fiascos, respectively, Toyota and Honda still haven’t screwed the pooch as blatantly (and willingly) as GM appears to have done with the ignition switch issue. And Honda hasn’t killed anybody.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        No deaths they are aware of at this time:

        “Honda is not aware of any crashes, injuries or fires related to this issue, which was discovered during warranty repairs,” the automaker said in a statement.

        http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-autos-honda-recall-odyssey-minivans-20140317,0,7338708.story#ixzz2wKONdznN

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Some that were thinking about giving GM another chance are turning around and are turning around and purchasing another make auto.
    On the other hand we should expect increased rebates in the near future especially for the Silverado, Sierra, and Malibu.

  • avatar
    mikey

    The last few months have been nightmare for GM. The honeymoon is over for Mary Barra.

    Over the next few months, we will see what sort of stuff Mary Barra is made out of.

    As a GM retiree I’ve bought GM cars my whole life. Today I have a 2014 Impala sitting in my driveway. I had to go trough a very complicated car deal involving two vehicles. The dealer couldn’t of been any more accommodating.

    I’m very satisfied with my purchase, and came away from the deal feeling good

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So apparently we’re going to be reporting every GM recall now?

    Again, I realize this was two EICs ago but there was a strong statement from J.B. that TTAC would not become recall reporting central, and anyone committing the sin would be punished by having to write a story for every recall of that month.

    So where is the coverage of the Honda Odyssey recall?

    I get the ignition switch story is a bigger deal, but this is a pretty sensational headline that someone skimming the story would immediately think, another 1.55 million involved with bad ignition switches.

    Over one million vehicles are for a maybe pinched wire that maybe can cause the check ABS light to come on that if ignored maybe might result in the airbag not deploying. No injuries connected to the recall.

    I find it also sad, that with all of the vociferous defense of Toyota over the floor mat, gas pedal, brake override issues – TTAC and the B&B are not going, “gee, what happens if you have engine failure in any other car, you still have steering, it’s just heavy, you still have at least a few pumps of power brakes. This is purely a driver error issue.”

    Never mind that most of the directly connected deaths involved unbelted occupants.

    But I guess I understand. If you drive a Toyota, and it’s under full throttle, and you have no vacuum to drive the brakes, the brakes lose their power assist after a pump or two. THAT is 100% the driver’s fault for not knowing.

    How many power failures happen on cars every day where it just “dies.”

    But I understand – it’s a GM – so GM drivers are clearly superior to Toyota drivers because they must know better. And because they must know better, the only logical conclusion is – its 100% GM’s fault.

    Now – before the pitchforks and torches come out, do some reading of my other replies on this story. I’ve posted already:

    * Won’t be surprised if this extends to GM W-Bodies – there is a very similar TSB from the mid-2000s for the same ignition switch issue

    * GM has no excuse for dragging this out this long

    * GM is, and I quote, “boned.”

    The above screed was just pulled from the 2010 TTAC playbook – and reaching a logical conclusion that when a Toyota goes accelerating off, it’s driver error and hence not Toyota’s fault. When a GM losses power, and the same idiot driver doesn’t respond to the crisis (and isn’t wearing a flippin’ seatbelt) that is not driver error, or driver bad response to a typical crisis, and hence 100% GM’s fault.

    Got it.

    Lets remember – Toyota had to reshape millions of gas pedals to prevent standard, included floor mat entrapment. It wasn’t just a wrong floor mat issue – and lots of other car makers have figured out how to make gas pedals and floor mats play nice with each other.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      + 5,000,000. I expect better from TTAC than to jump on to the media bandwagon without prior analytical thought.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Well said.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Agreed….Yes, and APaGttH did point out that TTAC was managed by different crew, during the Toyota UA thing.

        I don’t think any of us want to see TTAC post every single recall. I little balance wouldn’t hurt though.

    • 0 avatar
      84Cressida


      Lets remember – Toyota had to reshape millions of gas pedals to prevent standard, included floor mat entrapment. It wasn’t just a wrong floor mat issue – and lots of other car makers have figured out how to make gas pedals and floor mats play nice with each other”

      Nope. Wrong. The standard floormats and the gas pedal never even came close to impeding on one another when properly clipped in.

      And the simple fact of the matter, as investigated by the regulatory figures and NASA, and NOT trial laywers, was that the Toyota SUA was driver error and user error by stacking allweather mats on top of the standard carpet floormats, rather than removing the standard carpets ones PER INSTRUCTION.

      Meanwhile, the GM ignition switch is a verified problem that GM themselves knew about for 13 years! The only thing remotely similar between this and the Toyota SUA is that GM is going to get mass coverage about this and they’re going to be more sensitive to recalling practically any issue that creeps up just like Toyota has.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Yes, “when properly clipped in,” when the clips kept the floor mat in the right place.

        Pay no attention to those Lexi that got zip ties as part of the solution because the clips didn’t keep the floor mats in the right place.

        The funny thing is – since you imply you’re driving 80’s cars – where are the clips on the floor for those floor mats?

        You mean other manufacturers for DECADES could make gas pedals and floor mats that didn’t bind under really any circumstance beyond pure stupidity, before clips – and Toyota can’t even figure out a clip???

        Never mind Toyota had to get out the carpet knives and reshape 3.8 million gas pedals.

        http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/toyota-to-reshape-and-replace-gas-pedals-in-wake-of-recall-2193/

        Or how about this, from Toyota Nation’s website:

        http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/126-toyota-news-site-news/322575-recall-notice-toyota-recalls-3-8-million-vehicles-replace-reshape-gas-pedals.html

        …Toyota has now announced it will again recall 3.8 million vehicles in order to replace or reshape the gas pedal. The decision was made after it was determined the pedal’s shape, along with the shape of the floor mat, could cause the accelerator to stick…

        But hey, don’t let the truth get in the way.

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          The cars got zip ties because customers are morons and the media made the issue a panic frenzy. It was simply an extra pre-caution for those customers who are afraid of their own shadow.

          “You mean other manufacturers for DECADES could make gas pedals and floor mats that didn’t bind under really any circumstance beyond pure stupidity, before clips – and Toyota can’t even figure out a clip???”

          Are you so far up GM’s butt that you believe this? Floormats have gotten caught on gas pedals for decades. That’s part of the reason why driver’s mats are usually clipped in, something Toyota had been doing for well over 10 years before any of this SUA BS showed up.

          There is simply no way for the clips to break or come loose unless the owners ripped them out of the carpet. The clips are designed so that if you want to remove the floor mat, you have to pull back the mat away from the pedals. Putting the carpet mat in correctly like any sane person would do and you will never ever in a million years ever have to worry about it interfering with the gas pedal. The end frog boy.

          • 0 avatar
            IHateCars

            “There is simply no way for the clips to break or come loose unless the owners ripped them out of the carpet. The clips are designed so that if you want to remove the floor mat, you have to pull back the mat away from the pedals. Putting the carpet mat in correctly like any sane person would do and you will never ever in a million years ever have to worry about it interfering with the gas pedal.”

            Not so sure about that. Looking at my MiL’s Toyota, she is having an issue with the mat coming loose and wadding up under the gas pedal…with the hook/clip attached! Turns out the metal eyelet that the hook clips into has completely separated from the carpet due to corrosion.

        • 0 avatar

          > You mean other manufacturers for DECADES could make gas pedals and floor mats that didn’t bind under really any circumstance beyond pure stupidity, before clips – and Toyota can’t even figure out a clip???

          I sincerely hope you understand how a bar chart works. Otherwise everyone would’ve been wasting their effort arguing with a complete moron:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chart_mfr_data_99-00.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        You almost got this right.

        The NASA and other regulators agreed that the throttle by wire system wasn’t at fault. In those cases, pedal misapplication was the cause.

        Toyota, even before the SUA recall, had an SUA recall for all weather mats that were an accessory that were interfering with the gas pedal.

        http://www.motortrend.com/features/auto_news/2010/112_1001_toyota_recall_crisis/november.html

        Also, part of the problem is that there were reports of the clips breaking and coming loose. And remember, Toyota said that SUA was caused by loose mats. The Saylor incident was caused by wrong mats in the car and these mats being stacked. But, SUA as a whole was not only driver error.

    • 0 avatar
      alsorl

      Great points on recalls. Yet Toyota dishing out $1.63 billion for settlements kinda looks like it was more then just a bad floor mat. It was cheap engineering and poor quality control. And Toyota probably made out with a deal with all things considered.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-19/toyota-settlement-of-acceleration-cases-wins-approval.html

      • 0 avatar
        84Cressida

        Toyota settled because it’s cheaper than having to go through years of litigation and to have this constantly in the news over and over. They settled and added the caveat “we admit no wrongdoing or product defect”.

        They have a NASA and NHTSA investigation on their side. If they felt like they could do this cheaper fighting it out, they would.

        • 0 avatar
          alsorl

          Yes, Paying out $1.63 billions means “we admit no wrongdoing or product defect”. That is brilliant.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            You have to forgive BlackDynamiteOnline

            Every Toyota on the planet could become self-aware and destroy modern society and he would be carving into a rock the benefits of the destruction of our world and the virtues of our new Toyota overlords.

          • 0 avatar
            SayMyName

            To be fair, it isn’t like those malevolent Toyotas could wreak any more destruction to society than our current leaders have managed.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            GM could spit on the American flag and you’d be bringing up hyperbole about Toyota to try to deflect attention away from them.

            Wait. That’s what you’re doing right now. Per the course.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        There is no great point. Toyota had to reshape or replace 3.8 million gas pedals because they would get entrapped in the floor mats.

        http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/126-toyota-news-site-news/322575-recall-notice-toyota-recalls-3-8-million-vehicles-replace-reshape-gas-pedals.html

        Toyota has now announced it will again recall 3.8 million vehicles in order to replace or reshape the gas pedal. The decision was made after it was determined the pedal’s shape, along with the shape of the floor mat, could cause the accelerator to stick.

        Nothing in there about clips, about double floor mats, wrong floor mats. Amazing how people want to rewrite history.

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          No, amazing how you continue to be intentionally obtuse. Toyota did those recalls to further ensure that pedals and inproperly installed mats did not come into contact.

          You continue to spread lies and lies and try to make your story fit. There is video proof on the internet that putting the carpet floor mat into a Toyota will not cause any problems whatsoever.

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHotbtd7HJA

          Here’s a video showing the installed floormat not getting anywhere near the gas pedal.

          But this guy must be in on it too….

          • 0 avatar
            BrianL

            Here is a previously recalled Toyota floormat. http://www.safetyresearch.net/Library/Toyota_Floormat.pdf

            This issue would happen with all weather mats and the mats don’t always stay in place with the clips. Clips were breaking or coming loose. The guy in the video didn’t try anything like this suggestion on the floor mat to see if it would entrap it.

          • 0 avatar
            alsorl

            Now that was entertaining.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    I find the tie-in story on Bloomberg eye-opening: that GM has “today created a new global vehicle safety position”. You mean that up until now, there was no such position? Amazing.

  • avatar
    rem83

    While the repair may only take 30 minutes, I wouldn’t be surprised if the dealer took days to actually get to the car. That’s nice they’re offering a free loaner car – it’s a luxury I was not afforded last time I had to bring my Saturn to a GM dealer for service (BCM replacement).

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      If repairs are being made under GMs dime, they should give you a loaner.

      I had repairs made, paid for by aftermarket warranty company, GM didn’t correctly repair so they had to redo the repair and I got a loaner.

      Even if you don’t need a loaner, take it, because they do repairs a whole lot faster when you have something of theirs that they have to pass around.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I’m also expecting major upsell from the service manager.

      “You know, while we had it in the garage the mechanic noticed (insert service item here), and since the car is here and you’ve got that loaner…”

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Wonder if the “loaners” will be CPO GM vehicles that will be eligible for the extra $500. (I assume that’s on top of all the other offers GM has at the time “Open House”, “Red Tag”, “Truck Month”, dinner with Santa Claus offers.)

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        That’s just for late model GM cars under warranty. The problem goes back about a decade, and a lot of those cars aren’t even in the same state where they were originally sold. I doubt a dealer would provide a loaner to anyone but people he sold the car to. One dealer in San Diego has a collision repair shop and a Hertz rental counter on his property (he services the Hertz fleet) and sends his collision/non-sales customers there for their temporary wheels.

  • avatar
    SayMyName

    Regardless of TTAC’s coverage, these issues aren’t going away any time soon. GM is very much viewed as being aligned with the Boy King’s feckless administration, and the media driving this story isn’t nearly as enamored with or sympathetic to that group as it used to be.

    Case in point: even CBS News made much of the fact tonight that Mary “It’s Not a Wig” Barra had to make her second apology in two days over GM’s safety and quality failings. The tide is decidedly against “New” GM right now.


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