By on December 30, 2011

Quick: What does the Chevy Sonic have in common with the original Bugatti tourers? Simple: they were built to go, not to stop. Well, the Sonic isn’t necessarily built to “go” as such, but you get the idea.

In its continuing effort to make life easier for burned-out TTAC headline writers, General Motors announced their latest “Mark Of Excellence” today: a recall campaign covering 4,873 Sonics sold in the United States and Canada. What’s wrong with these Sonics? As John Mayer would say, something’s missing…

Today’s online edition of the Chicago Tribune rather straight-facedly noted that

General Motors Co. is recalling 4,873 of its current year Chevrolet Sonic subcompact cars in the United States and Canada for possible missing front brake pads, the company and federal safety regulators said on Friday…

GM said that its research shows that 20 to 30 of the recalled cars were sold without one of its brake pads. Of the total recalled, 4,296 were sold to U.S. customers and 577 to Canadian customers, GM said.

For once, it turns out that the Sonic has a problem which cannot be attributed to the group of Korean engineers and stylists at Daewoo the global, multi-national, multi-ethnic, absolutely-including-Europe-and-United-States-resources, did-we-mention-it-was-global team which designed the car. As a bit of a connoisseur of production-line data myself, I’d love to see how they figured out that “20 to 30” Sonics were missing pads. Honestly, when I hear the phrase “pad checking” in regards to mass production, I think of companies like Nike which wouldn’t let women leave their sweatshop lines to change a tampon, not the idea that nobody’s looking to see if a full set of brake pads is going in the car.

Oh well. If you’re currently the owner of a Sonic, here’s what you can do to address the issue:

  • Get the lug wrench and jack out from the miserable little compartment in the back of the car.
  • Loosen the lugs on both front wheels.
  • Raise the left side of the vehicle at the suggested jacking point. Remove the wheel. Using a flashlight, check to ensure that there is a brake pad on both sides of your front discs. You may have noticed certain symptoms, such as: longer stopping distances, horrible squealing, fatal impalement on roadside objects on the outside of sharp corners. Be aware of these symptoms as you check.
  • Replace the wheel and finger-tighten the lugs.
  • Repeat the process on the right side.
  • Tighten the lugs to what feels “about right”.
  • Drive the car to the nearest competing dealer and trade it in on a make of car which is known to ship with a complete set of brake pads pretty much all the time, such as Peugeot, Yugo, or Crosley.

I’m just kidding, guys. Every single owner of a Sonic in the United States can probably do the following:

  • Complain to GM the next time your rental agency is buying 10,000 of them.

That’s all, folks! And if you see a Sonic behind you… I’m terribly sorry!

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110 Comments on “GM Won’t Give The Sonic A (Complete Set Of) Brake (Pads)...”


  • avatar

    Speaking of rentals and GM, Dollar gave me a ‘Bu last week. 30k miles on the odo, and the right front bearing is on its way. Horrible rumble and vibration. That being Christmas, there was no chance to swap it out, and I was praying to the great Bob Lutz in the sky that it held together just long enough. It did.

    P.S. Do you guys remember that Wrangler with mismatching fenders (one side body color, another side black)? The one which NOBODY at dealership noticed and posted an ad? If good people of Toledo, OH, can screw up like that, I am not surprised that Koreans forgot to put brake pads on.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    Your bailout tax dollars at work.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Good quality control UAW. Please tell me someone got ‘canned’ for this one…

  • avatar
    Ian

    The good news is that if you’re driving a new Sonic, you might want to kill yourself anyway.. And come on, who REALLY NEEDS brakes?

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Sonic comes with aluminum wheels standard on all trim levels, so you can probably just look at the calipers through the spokes.

    No need to jack up the car.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      In practice, it can be tough to see the inboard pads of sliding-caliper brakes that way. It’s no problem to check a 911 this way, but try doing it on a Continental GT.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m servicing my Flying Spur.

        But, I’m still fairly positive that you can either see or feel the mere existence of all four front brake pads on a Chevy Sonic without needing to remove the wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      johnhowington

      i highly doubt you can see the inner pad on ANY vehicle with ANY kind of rim through the spokes because its HIDDEN by the CALIPER.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Which is why I wrote “either see or feel”.

        Jack’s little how-to was a throwaway gag anyway, but Sonic owners shouldn’t need to remove their wheels if they just to see some evidence of all their brake pads.

        The recall notice itself even states: “Tire removal is not required to inspect for the inboard and outboard brake pads.”

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The inspection should have been done before the assembly was lifted into the body.

      I haven’t seen Orion, but in the FWD plants I’m familiar with the drivetrain, suspension, exhaust, rear assembly etc is built on a separate carrier from the body. When it’s completed, the carriers have hydraulic rams front and rear that raise the entire assembly to mate with the body.

      Someone should have had the job of inspecting the assembly before it was joined with the body when the pads should have been easier to inspect.

  • avatar
    dejal1

    No per-delivery inspection by a dealer or the rental agency? Not that the cars should have ever left the factory that way, but whats up with that?

    You’ve got to put the car on a car hauler or train and hit the brakes. You have to take the car off of a car hauler or train and hit the brakes. If one brake pad was missing wouldn’t it pull horribly?

  • avatar
    spyked

    I too imagine the car would pull terribly for whoever was test driving it. Not a big deal – in fact – the car is getting free publicity. Certainly an easy fix!

  • avatar
    nearprairie

    Ah, “That great GM feeling…”

  • avatar
    JCraig

    This is just hilarious. Great article. I understand complex parts that have unforseen bugs but this is just crazy.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I think we need to ask the question whether a FWD small econobox even needs brakes in the rear. Maybe it’s a cost saving measure. The only reason it has rear wheels is to keep the rear bumper from dragging on the ground.

    • 0 avatar
      slow kills

      I kind of agree. I suspect it’s like motorcycles where the front brakes often do over 90% of the work.
      However, they need a parking brake, and this recall regarded front pads.

      The photo caption is redonkalous if anyone missed it.

  • avatar
    damikco

    A none issue, cant even see how this is considered news.

    • 0 avatar

      Whether we like it or not, people are interested when GM screws up. If you’re in the business of publishing you’d be stupid not to cover things that interest people. Like I said about another GM story Volt + Fire = Web Traffic.

      When I started up Cars In Depth I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on political or industry topics, I’d rather talk about cars, but the reality verified by Google Analytics is that the controversial topics draw traffic. You look for a balance. Shakespeare wrote with one hand in the ticket box, there’s a fair amount of violence, gore and sexual intrigue in his plays. He was able to write for his audience while still serving a higher artistic goal. Without readers, what’s the point?

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        I honestly understand this recall story, it’s a narrative thing. All car companies who make this mistake would get called on it but GM has a history of being completely lackadaisical yet somehow manage to dominate sales in the US and China. I’m not familiar who is assembling brake assemblies whether it is N.A. Factories or third parties or foreign factories but I can be sure somebody got canned for letting brake calipers being left empty. Thankfully nobody has died for such a stupid mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      A non-issue? Maybe but that’s not you would be saying if it happened to Toyota

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Oh goody. In the interest of Truth and fairness are you going to publish all recalls now? I guess Ed has really left the building.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      We publish all recalls that are funny. Or at least *I* do. Come on now. We aren’t talking about the usual “A loose wire in the blah blah can cause blah blah when exposed to blah blah.” We’re talking about NOT PUTTING ALL THE BRAKE PADS IN THE CAR. That wasn’t a problem in 1915, you know?

      • 0 avatar

        Jack, off the top of my head, the Model T had a single drum brake inside the transmission. By 1914/15 the Dodge bros were selling a car with two-wheel externally contracting, mechanically actuaated drum brakes on the back wheels.

        The recall of the Sonic has to do with the front brakes. Since most cars in 1915 didn’t have front brakes, this wasn’t a problem. So technically you’re correct.

        Also, I don’t think they had things like recalls in 1915, so again it wasn’t a problem. Though Chevy did buy back what few air cooled “cooper cooled” 1924 Chevys they sold.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        So why not the December 22, 2011 Honda Odyssey recall – the one with the loose nut that can allow the entire hub assembly to turn inward and lock up the steering.

        What, can’t remember to tighten a bolt? Sheeze. Oh wait – only funny when GM screws up that bad…I get it.

        And instead of 20 to 30 vehicles, Honda’s recall is for nine people called by phone? How the heck did they know that???

        No story about Fisker Karmas that could burst into flames due to coolant leaks in the battery?

        Nissan apparently put crappy bolts in the engines of some Infiniti and Nissan products (bought by Suzuki too) that can then break resulting in all the oil leaking out and seizing the engine.

        Ford has some F-150 through F-550 pick ’em up trucks built in 2011 and 2012 that apparently has the wonderful feature of being able to be taken out of park – even if there is no key in the ignition and no foot on the brake – you know – happy times!

        The air bags in Audi A6’s apparently weren’t sewn together right at the factory, and will not inflate properly (essentially the “bag” will rupture) in an accident, not offering any protection.

        Ford is also recalling 2010 and 2011 built Milans and Fusions because, well the wheel studs crack and gee whilikers – the wheels are falling off.

        The Nissan Juke has circuit boards improperly stored in the power steering system that can break, causing a loss of power assist unexpectedly.

        Not a “car” recall, but Honda GL1800 motorcycles are being recalled because the master cylinder is allowing the rear brakes to be engage full time – kind of a problem.

        31,000 plus Impreza, Legacy, and Outbacks built for the 2012 model year are also being recalled for bad master cylinders in the brake system that can result in the pedal going to the floor and braking distances being much longer than expected – sure how you don’t have a Subbie behind you either!

        This is just a partial list of all of the “funny” recalls for the month of December. Har, har, har – we only report the funny ones.

        GM with no brakes. Funny.

        Subbie with no brakes. Crickets.

    • 0 avatar

      No, we only publish recalls where a major functioning component of the car (engine, brakes, steering, etc.) was left off at the factory.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        APaGttH deserves an answer to that concern.

        Everything you talk about above is an assembly or fabrication error which is not obvious to the human eye. An improperly-tightened bolt? (Not a loose bolt, by the way. It’s a case of a FANUC robot not applying a torque spec) A wheel stud made of the wrong material? That’s all bad stuff.

        But a missing brake pad? That’s something that any number of people — perhaps up to FIFTY different people — would have been visually exposed to during the assembly process.

        When GM has bad quality in a bolt, well, that’s a bad job on their part. When GM doesn’t bother to check if the f***ing BRAKE PADS ARE INSTALLED, that’s business as usual on GM’s part. It’s a classic example of “too big to fail, or care” that wouldn’t be out of place in a book on, say, the Van Nuys Assembly Plant thirty years ago.

        That’s why it is different, and that is why I wrote the story. Hope that helps.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Touche Jack – and I appreciate the measured response and understand your POV.

        No doubt it is an embarrassment.

        Another thing I’ve considered is how this would have apparently crept past the make ready department at dealers and the alleged inspections they are supposed to do before delivering a new vehicle.

  • avatar

    As a bit of a connoisseur of production-line data myself, I’d love to see how they figured out that “20 to 30″ Sonics were missing pads.

    JB, it’s a tiny recall, just over 4K cars. What’s that, two or three days worth of production?

    My guess is that this is the fault of a single employee at a single shift either at Orion or at the vendor that supplies calipers.

    I think it makes sense that only a very small number of cars would be affected. I can’t see a large number of cars making it through dealer prep and delivery without someone noticing the metal to metal noise from the brakes. If this defect had actually affected thousands of cars, it would have been spotted earlier.

    • 0 avatar
      progressiveluddite

      I think you’ve over simplified “…the fault of a single employee at a single shift”.
      A management system allowed vehicles to reach the CUSTOMER that lacked a key component of a safety system. Not just one employee passed this on to their next customer in the process. The questions: how could the part be (mis)assembled in this manner, and, why could this not be detected, are for management.
      Based on the span of cars, and not knowing where the calipers are loaded, my guess: problem cars were found, and some type of date code provided evidence of a common cause, but if first in first out isn’t closely followed, then the exposure opens up to thousands of cars. We also don’t know how many cars were found in this condition within GMs control (factory, marshalling yard, transit, etc.) as recalls only affect vehicles that have left the manufacturers control (I.e. dealer or customer). I doubt a mistake was only 20 or 30 cars, that’s the number in the public’s hands.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “My guess is that this is the fault of a single employee at a single shift”

      Are you implying that GM doesn’t have any quality or process control? “Single employee” faults typically happen when the total number of employees in the company is smaller than 5. What if that single employee forgot to install an airbag?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Judging by GM ads the Sonicugly Daewood Aveo was never even meant to be a car, just a prop!

  • avatar
    css28

    I believe I read that the pads lacked clips to hold them in the calipers while the modules were being shipped.

    The quantity cited is probably based on the loose pads that turned up in the dunnage after the fact.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Definitely a slow news day…

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      C’mon. Miss a chance to slag GM? Miss a chance to hammer at a car that is of absolutely no interest to those who are true car enthusiasts? MISS A CHANCE TO SLAG GM??????????

      If this site did, I’d start to double check to make sure I haven’t gone to some other website.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      You’ve gotta be kidding. A car is delivered with missing freaking brake pads!?!?

      How is that not worth commenting on?

      I find it hard to imagine someone driving away and not noticing, but then there are a lot of idiots out there.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    You don’t need to take the wheel off of any car with spoke wheels to see the brake pad.

    All you really need is a small mirror, stealing your wife/girlfriends compact mirror or a mechanics extendable mirror is all you need.

    Or the broken shards of one and some type of long nose pliers.

    Or if you’re a dentist, one of those too.

    As for publishing/not publishing this. Not getting the brake pads right is a huge mistake in terms of safety, so the more places talking about this, the better I think.

    And if it is 30-40, it is definitely one employee screwing up.

    • 0 avatar
      bobby b

      “All you really need is a small mirror, stealing your wife/girlfriends compact mirror . . . . ”
      – – – –

      If you draw this out in a Venn diagram, there will be little if any overlap between “guys who have chosen to buy a Sonic” and “guys who have managed to attract a wife or girlfriend”.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    When I went to Mechanic’s school in the the Eighties’, I had a class that taught the basics of working in a repair shop. The instructor was a veteran of dealerships and commented on how the techs hated doing pre-delivery work. As he probably saw a class full of puzzled faces, he stated that, because the vehicles were new, anything could be wrong. The example he gave was a no start on a new Mopar. The cause was a 4 cylinder engine with 3 pistons.
    My question is how did the cars get off the assembly line, into the storage lot and on to the transporter without someone hearing , smelling grinding metal or feeling a really awful brake pedal. And how did this repeat 400 times?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      BINGO! One of the last things to happen before a car leaves the assembly line is a dyno-like test where its run up thru the gears to about 80 mph and the brakes are applied. If the car doesn’t stop the “rolling road” (as the Brits call it) within a certain amount of time a big red light comes on and the car fails. Clearly they can’t have cars leaving the factory without working brakes – since someone has to DRIVE them onto the transporter (ship, train, etc)!

  • avatar
    whisperquiet

    You guys (gals) are so critical………….it’s probably a $12.00 option for all of the brake pads. BTW, this is the Sonic XE high mileage version with with “low drag/rolling resistance” package. Get to to you GM dealer now before they are sold out. 0.0% for 60 months with no money down.

  • avatar
    wallstreet

    I’ll never complain about Chinese made vehicles again.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The cost-cutting is getting out of hand.

  • avatar
    arbnpx

    We don’t know what the cause was for these “20 to 30” cars to have brake pads missing. But this does remind me of a part in the NPR series “This American Life”, episode 403 (NUMMI), where they were talking to someone who had worked at GM’s Fremont plant when it was making GM cars, prior to the changeover to joint Toyota / GM production:
    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/403/transcript

    “Richard Aguilar inspected vehicles at the plant. He saw one guy do something even worse.”…

    Richard Aguilar: “He left some loose bolts on the front suspension. That was dangerous. I went and told the system manager right away. They went out there and they checked, and there was like 400 cars he had done that to. He was mad because they had suspended him for drinking.”

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      These were just the 20 to 30 cars that GM identified. The heart of the matter is, of course, the lack of quality control on the part of the manufacturer, before their product leaves the factory.

      My brothers were in the new-car retail business for more than 30 years and their policy at each dealership was to have an inspection when each car was received from the distributor or factory, before it was put out on the lot or showroom floor.

      They sold several brands, including foreign brands. And they found lots of items that the manufacturer QC missed. That included all brands, but the foreign ones had far fewer QC issues than the domestic ones.

      And then there was the pre-delivery inspection, usually performed with the buyer before, during and after the test drive. Each dealership insisted that the buyer take the car for a test drive before the deal was finalized. Some issues were identified by the buyer during the test drive, such as mushy brakes, rattle in the dashboard, pulls to one side, etc.

      Even with all this effort on the part of the dealerships, some cars required a lot more warranty work than others. Again, the domestics led pack when it came to warranty issues.

      This is a QC issue. It goes to show that the UAW members are not performing any QC on what they work on or assemble, even if the front end unit is delivered assembled from a supplier.

      Had this happened to Toyota, the automotive press would have been all over the story. Since it happened to a nationalized US company it’s no big deal.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        Don’t automatically assume it’s a UAW member issue.

        In the early 80s, I was actually involved in letting a number of cars with known defects leave a factory – and I wasn’t a UAW member. The problem wasn’t even caused by a human. A number of cars were screwed up in the process of calibrating a new robot. I handed a list of cars with the issue to management (before the cars had reached final) and was told to forget about it and that the dealer would take care of it. We had to make production numbers and there wasn’t time to put these cars through rework.

        In this case from decades ago, not a single UAW member was involved – this was all management. I don’t know what happened with the Sonic, but without detailed information, it’s hard to say where the blame should be placed.

        Do we even know if management had enough QA people assigned? If there are more problems than expected, the process of entering the problems in the database by the QA people may have taken longer than expected and may have caused them to start rushing the inspections to keep up with the line. If management plans for each inspection to take 60 seconds and it starts taking 70 seconds, it takes about 6 jobs before you get an entire car behind. I tend to blame management in these situations.

      • 0 avatar
        Japanese Buick

        @mcs thank you for putting smome real world perspective into the prefictable UAW bashing.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        mcs, with you UAW fanboys it is always someone else fault, isn’t it? When is the UAW going to assume any responsibility for driving two of their employers into bankruptcy? Or their lackadaisical work ethic that resulted in lousy assembly. Management is it? BS! Last person to touch it is responsible, not management.

        The answer is that the UAW will NEVER assume any responsibility for anything as long as the tax payers get duped into bailing out these losers. Thankfully, we are rid of Chrysler, and it only cost us a mere $1.3B. GM will cost us a lot more before all the crying is done.

        But if you are willing to bear with me here is something that may enlighten you. During my last visit to the Hyundai factory for new dealers a few years back our team was shown how each Hyundai employee is taught to be constantly on the look-out for things that don’t seem or look right in their respective area.

        And if they question something, they call someone or even stop production of that item. They are proud to have been instrumental in identifying supplier issues and have prevented substandard items from leaving the factory. That same philosophy extends down to the dealer level and their pre-delivery inspection.

        Regardless of who omitted the brake pads, SOMEONE should have caught this before it left that assembly station for the marriage.

        Like I said, if this had happened to Toyota or Honda or even Nissan, you UAW weenies would have been quite vocal and the automotive press would have blown it all out of proportion like they did the SUA allegations against Toyota.

        But since it was GM, built in Michigan? No big deal. Typical downplaying any and all errors that Government Motors made. No one’s to blame here except management. Maybe if someone had been killed. But no. No harm done here. So downplay it. No big deal. Makes you wonder, what other no big deals leave the factory, eh?

        Maybe GM should take a page out of the book of Alan Mulally. The first thing he did was whip some spine into Ford and have them assume responsibility for everything with their nameplate on it. And look at Ford GO!

        If we, the people, ever hope to get our ‘investment’ back from GM, we better hope that GM is profitable, viable and self-sustaining.

        One way to do that is to teach all GM employees to be vigilant for quality issues, no matter who the supplier is. I bet they’re looking things over now.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        Well that was certainly a knee-jerk reactionary response.

        mcs didn’t come across as a union “fanboy” at all – he was merely pointing out that they’re not the root cause of everything. I’m not a fan of the UAW either but it wouldn’t exactly rock my world if someone else were responsible for the missing brake pads.

        And for what it’s worth, the unions were only a partial cause of the bankruptcies – as numerous accounts on this site alone can attest, atrocious management arguably played a much bigger role.

      • 0 avatar
        damikco

        http://www.motortrend.com/cars/2011/hyundai/sonata/recalls/
        I geuss they cuaght these to.

  • avatar
    28-cars-later

    You get what you pay for, next time buy a real car.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    Again, close enough for government work.

  • avatar
    Dynasty

    The sad thing is the factory more than likely knew they were missing parts. But, the shift manager or floor manager or the factory manager, whoever is in charge had to make an executive decision to maintain production at any and all costs. And assumed the dealer would figure it out before someone drove off the lot.

    This is just the culture of GM. Unfortunately.

  • avatar
    fmrh0ndroid

    I don’t believe it to be as much a cultural issue as it is a slow erosion of quality in all realms of manufacturing, all over the globe. Bottom line: People will only do what is *absolutely* necessary to secure a regular paycheck when they simply don’t care about their job. Care as in….quality of work…..overall success of the company for which they work….safety of the vehicles they manufacture…..you get my point. Couple this with a total lack of accountability for their (in)actions, and this is what we get.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      Maybe cultural was not the right word.

      I currently work with a guy who used to be a GM engineer (at least ten years ago). We’ve had some interesting conversations about GM. Apparently, the engineers at GM are rotated throughout the company and work in many different areas.

      Anyhow, at one his rotations while working at a factory, he stated production was to be maintained at any cost. If there were screws or fasteners needed, that were not available, the linemen were expected to ‘just make it work’ with whatever was available.

      I think I asked him why GM cars seemed so shoddily put together.

      I just can’t see how the linemen would not notice the brake pads missing. Or notice braking was bad when driving it off of the line.

      They knew. They didn’t care. Production had to be maintained.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        That’s just an excuse. They could have just built the car without the component, but red-flagged it and sent a second team to deal with it after it’s off the line, before it’s sent to dealers.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “People will only do what is *absolutely* necessary to secure a regular paycheck when they simply don’t care about their job.”

      I agree. Thus will never buy a UAW car, because their threshold of not being fired is too low (due to the strong union).

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        I’m not defending these guys, just offering one possible explanation.

        We’ll probably never know the true story of how this happened. Maybe the linemen just didn’t care… Maybe they did and the floor manager said to send them out anyways… Maybe the floor manager did want to set the components aside and wait for parts to arrive, but the factory exec said the dealerships would figure it out once they took arrival of them… And maybe deep down inside the factory exec would have preferred to send the vehicles out with their front brakes installed, but he had a quota to meet, and waiting for the necessary parts to arrive would have pissed someone off above him (because the dealer would figure it out)

        I realize none of these scenarios are forgivable, but I believe this extends beyond the UAW into management which is probably not part of the union.

        So the 2nd big question is, why did the dealers of these said vehicles not realize the front brake pads were missing? How is this even possible that at so many links in the chain cars were being built, shipped, and sold to the public that no one realized the cars were missing vital components?

        This is truly mind boggling.

        And htf would someone test driving one of these vehicles not realize the braking totally sucked before signing on the dotted line? Were these mostly fleet vehicles?

  • avatar
    Jimal

    Have there been any reports of accidents or deaths relating to brake failure on new Sonics? Because that is only conclusion to a missing brake pad and it wouldn’t take long.

    Great fodder for the GM bashers, but the key word here is “possible”. For all anyone knows, like the infamous Cruze with the missing steering wheel nut, there is exactly ONE example of a Sonic with a missing brake pad, it was found and the recall is to inspect all cars that contain parts from the subcontractor, which is where your 4,873 number comes from and that “researched” number of 20 to 30 sold with the missing pad is a number they pulled out of their collective ass.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Could’t you hear the brake assembly screeching when it’s metal to metal with the rotor? Again, GM, nice job – just like the pantheon of GM small cars past.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “For once, it turns out that the Sonic has a problem which cannot be attributed to [the group of Korean engineers and stylists at Daewoo] the global, multi-national, multi-ethnic, absolutely-including-Europe-and-United-States-resources, did-we-mention-it-was-global team which designed the car.”

    What do you have against the reincarnated Daewoo? You’re on Kia’s jock so hard that I feel like I’m reading one of your old Ford or Audi reviews when I read one of your Kia reviews, so I know that it’s not [any longer] an anti-Korean bias. GM Korea isn’t quite at Hyundai/Kia’s level yet (maybe more in terms of styling than engineering), but there’s no reason it can’t get there. I’m not even going to knock the old Daewoo since I had a great time driving around Baja California in a rental Lanos. In the long run I doubt GM will have any regret about focusing on Korea is a design center. It’s a worthless effort for the GM fanboys to pretend that the Spark and Cruze aren’t GM Korea designs, Hyundai/Kia has taken away the Korean stigma.

    By the way, the official story is that the pads fell off on in a shipping container in transport from Delphi factory in Korea that produces the front sub-assembly: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20111230/CARNEWS/111239995

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Finfrock

      Brake pads aren’t supposed to simply “fall off” anyplace…

      And Daewoo is very much considered the General Motors of Korea. Take a look at Cruze quality ratings compared to Hyundai and Kia. The latter companies are on a much higher level, if not quite the equal of Honda and Toyota just yet. (I’d bet money those companies will get there long before Daewoo.)

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      “What do you have against the reincarnated Daewoo?”

      Not a thing.

      What do I have about GM’s coy refusal to admit that they have effectively outsourced their small-car program to the worst player in an emerging-market area? PLENTY.

      All of that rhetorical garbage about “global” is thrown straight out the window any time a General Motors automobile has OMFG GERMAN HURRITAGE.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        I agree on the refusal to admit, but disagree on the worst player part, particularly with the Cruze GM Korea has done solid work. And on a technicality that would be SsangYong.

        Like I mentioned above, I don’t understand why GM tries to hide GM Korea – Hyundai/Kia is giving Korea a great reputation. Maybe GM wants to keep alive the dellusion that the US can outsource all manufacturing, but that design work will somehow magically stay here. As the Cruze and Spark demonstrate, the reverse is actually more efficient logistically.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I understand the worst assertion. We had Daewoos here. They didn’t cut it. We had a Daewoo built version of the Kadett sold as a Pontiac LeMans. It was legendary in its crumminess. We had the previous Lacetti here, badged as a Suzuki. It was one of the worst cars on the market, well free of anything comparably simple in the volume of defects it exhibited. If there are worse cars than Daewoos, they don’t seem to be sold in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        You should be juding GM Korea based on the Cruze and Spark, not the cars that GM smartly sold as Suzukis (it allowed GM to kill the Daewoo brand, but still move the lame duck designs, while not tarnishing any GM brands with the cars).

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        They’re overweight and undistinguished entries in a crowded market and built using a matrix of finger pointing operations. They’re engineered by Daewoo(GM Korea), whose last generation of cars were garbage. There is no reason to believe they’re good other than hope. There are plenty of reasons to take a wait and see attitude.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      What do you have against the reincarnated Daewoo?

      GM was able to buy Daewoo because Daewoo was a failing company that made lousy cars.

      VW does a decent job of turning around tarnished marques. (Think Skoda and Seat.) In contrast, GM has Saab and Isuzu for bragging rights. With that sort of track record, why should anyone be assuming the best?

      That being said, this may not mean much. Obviously, there was a QC failure and those should be avoided. But mistakes do happen, even at the best companies, and one shouldn’t use one container’s worth of cars in order to make broad judgments. If the errors are kept to a minimum and the manufacturer works diligently to address them with a minimum of inconvenience to the customer, that’s all we can ask for.

      Posters on this website have a kneejerk tendency to either turn molehills into mountains when targeting the companies that they dislike, or else apologize for anything and everything for the companies that they do like. Neither of those extreme responses is particularly insightful; they tell us a lot more about the person who is doing the responding than they do about the issue.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        That’s what was smart about the Daewoo purchase, GM got a valuable asset (a manufacturing and design presence in South Korea), instead of a dying brand (Saab).

        I would say VW’s purchases were regional expansions, kind of like Opel, Vauxhall and Holden.

        Agreed on the fanboyism. I’ll be critical of brands, but I won’t overly praise any, because the next day one of that brand’s cars with be involved in a fiery death.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        How about we use decades worth of cars? That would be a broad judgement. GM cars suck. They always have. And people, for some reason, still want and buy them. Really? I just continue not to be able to figure that out. I learned my lesson a long time ago (1982 Trans Am, to be exact) about these rolling caskets.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Not to worry, it’s got a bunch of air bags and a 5 mph bumper

  • avatar
    red60r

    I just looked up the Sonic on JD Power — no IQ report yet. Any bets they still win their category (Best “Korean-style” Subcompact beginning with “So”)?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    A Sonic w/o front brakes crashes into a Volt which in turns starts a fire that killed and maimed a dozen people. This could be used in some movie or TV show.

  • avatar
    Rob Finfrock

    Anyone who expresses any surprise at all by this news clearly hasn’t been paying attention. As if we should really expect anything better from a Daewoo-engineered, UAW-assembled, GM vehicle.

    Americans should be sickened that we wasted billions to save this wretched company… and, come November, we should demand retribution from the fools in Washington who made that decision against the wishes of the majority. From both political parties.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Here, here!!! We have a voice of reason!!! Thank you. And I’m sure GM will thank US for all those wasted billions. Wasted. That’s all. Wasted on combustible Volts, missing brake pads and steering wheels in your laps. And 600 horsepower cars that need repair the first time you use that horsepower.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Already the GM apologists are at it at another website forum. Just like the Volt issue, this may turn out to be nothing but the perception of a new cars that they forgot to install the brakes along with the Volt catching fire is what made GM go bankrupt and this is the kind of publicity that may send them back for more taxpayers bailout money and this time they may not get it. (Just kidding)

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      They’ll get it. GM will get another bail out whenever they ask for it, and it doesn’t matter which political party is in power. Like the Brits say, “in for a penny, in for a pound”.

      Just like Obama will get his $1.2T to raise the national debt limit, so will GM get another bail out when they need it. The precedence has already been set. You can’t bolster a ‘too-big-to-fail’ company one time and then say ‘hands-off’ when it fails again.

      If that were the case, if Congress would do something like that, the most likely candidates would have been Fannie and Freddie, the US Postal Service, et al. They’re still around, with government bail outs to keep them going.

      And so will GM be kept going. It will be deja vu all over again for the 94% of the tax paying workforce who will pay dearly to keep the bailed-out 6% employed and living large.

      If we can hand out 99-weeks of unemployment compensation, what’s a few billion to keep GM going? A drop in the ocean of self-inflicted US debt.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        “If we can hand out 99-weeks of unemployment compensation”…Wait…most of our unemployed were downsized, and not their fault. Just ask any Mexican, Korean, Thailander, Vietnamese, Bangladeshian, or anyone else who has a job that an American used to have. And it’s a Republican thing.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      Bob Lutz would say we’re crazy. He would say those brakes are just fine. Just go do a few deep-knee bends to build up your leg muscles and drive the car, and don’t forget to recommend it to your friends (that you want dead).

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Reminds me of when I worked for a car dealership. We went over new Oldsmobiles with a fine-toothed comb, having been burned by a batch that showed up with dry differential casings and other surprises. People who saw how they were delivered to the dealership didn’t use their employee purchase privileges. GM exists for the UAW, not for the customers.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Empty diff? That would be “your worst new car surprise” ever. That would be a great thread on here. My worst new car surprise would be that Jeep Cherokee I bought, drove home from the dealership with my brand new ride, noticed antifreeze dripping out, a radiator hose clamp was misplaced. I fixed it myself, but talk about your omen of things to come…

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Somebody please explain to me how a brake application (where the pad is completely missing) doesn’t stroke the piston out of the caliper far enough to cause a major leak of brake fluid and the pedal going down? I know they do use the brakes on the assy line roll test.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      In a car with Brembos, that absolutely would happen. In a sliding-caliper car, the single piston has a lot of travel. The missing pad doesn’t equate to the total permitted wear on both pads combined.

    • 0 avatar

      My brother’s old Mini Cooper dropped a brake pad and while I don’t think it ever lost hydraulic pressure the piston ended up grinding itself down on the rotor.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        Stole my thunder. I was going to say that a piston must be a great substitue for a pad. And most drivers (aimers, I call them) would NOT notice, especially the kind of drivers who would buy one of these. They would either be too busy hugging trees or texting about hugging trees while driving. (No, I didn’t mean hugging trees while driving. And I didn’t shoot an elephant in my pajamas.)

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Daewoo makes and sells a bunch of other products, appliances, electronics and such (Korean Mitsubishi) mostly outside the USA and for the most part, they’re also inferior quality

  • avatar
    geozinger

    So what do we have here? A sub-assembly from a supplier that is defective possibly made it onto 4000 cars? No reported problems, nor a design defect. A recall to correct the situation, with no cost to the owners, as it should be.

    I like how the meme for the Toyota issue has been reduced to only the SUA incidents. Truly the SUA incidents were fueled by hysteria, but the real fact remains there was a design issue with the accelerator pedal. Plus Toyota’s internal document noting how much money they saved by being able to avoid NHTSA regs, were particularly galling.

    So, other than Jack’s snarky post, what do we have? Nothing. No crashes, no injuries, nothing.

    Judging by the comments, I see a few people have no experience with mass production. Mistakes happen, as they do in every other field of endeavor. Just look at the list of recalls that ajla posted further up. And that’s just cars, for one month!

    Obviously, there’s a QC issue happening here. And from the reports I’d read, they seem to be working on the issue, which is all we can ask for.

  • avatar
    damikco

    This anti GM/UAW drivel is blatant, and asinine.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Make you a deal. If somebody BESIDES GM ships any cars without brake pads in 2012, I will write it up and put the words “FLAMING DEATH” in the headline.

      • 0 avatar
        damikco

        Hell worst things have happened, like “other” companies shipping thousands of units without safe airbags and the problem is not known until its way to late, but GM and the entire UAW gets crucified for less than 50, on a problem identified, and corrected. Is it just me or is common knowledge on manufacturing not known on site?

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps from some of the commenters, but I think that when you accuse the site of an anti-GM (remember, Farago’s not in charge anymore) or anti-UAW animus, you’re acting a lot like the folks posting “anti GM/UAW drivel”.

      • 0 avatar
        damikco

        ” Whether we like it or not, people are interested when GM screws up. If you’re in the business of publishing you’d be stupid not to cover things that interest people. Like I said about another GM story Volt + Fire = Web Traffic.”

        Clearly statements like this suggests other wise.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      You’re kidding, right? These are cars with little or no brakes. And they are marketed and sold by GM. So, should this be anti-Toyota drivel because their brakes are installed and work and are continuing to make GM (and the gullibles who still buy and drive them) look like the bunch of asses that they are?

      • 0 avatar
        damikco

        Your statement is hard to comprehend. No I’m not kidding if this was Toyota,Honda or even lowly Tata Motors having the same problem I would stand by it as non issue. They identified the problem and corrected it, no one was hurt GM did the right thing. Get over it, all of this over exaggeration of haw bad GM or the UAW is, is just blatant fanboyism.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    My enthusiasm for GM ended when I realized they couldn’t even get the ignition switch on my 05 Saturn ION right.

    And that they had evidence that they were “problematic” [to be polite]from the ION’s intro in the fall of 2002 or so.

    And that they used the same junk on the Cobalt. And the Canyon. And the HHR. And the G5/Pursuit.And the Colorado. And continued to do so for years afterward.

    Nearly 100 years since the self starter and they couldn’t get a simple part like the ignition switch right ?

    In all my years of driving the only ignition switch I ever had to replace was when I lost the keys for my 63 Valiant.

    That was a cost cutting GM management decision, but in the death match between the UAW and GM corporate the result is the same: junk supplied as parts, workers who don’t give a rip = proof the UAW and GM are made for each other. Screw em both.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Wow, good to see that the more things change, the more they stay the same at GM. GM needs to be made fun of because they were making tons of money on SUVs alone and then went TU just because fuel prices “unexpectedly” shot up. So GM got what they deserved. And because of spineless politicians, taxpayers were forced to bail them out. Still annoys me.

    Missing brake pads on a brand new car in 2011/2012 further re-enforces my boycott of GM.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Being the avid car nut I am I remember numerous cases of parts left off brand new just shipped cars or the wrong parts being installed. Some that stand out are an 80’s Mercury Colony Park with a Ford steering wheel emblem and not to be outdone a Chevy Caprice wagon with an Olds badge on it;s steering wheel center. Others include a Dodge Dynasty with Chrysler wire wheels on one side and Dynasty covers on the other, a 2008 Chrysler Sebring with a bodyside molding on one side of the car and nothing on the other side. The window sticker indicated it was supposed to have the optional molding on both sides. Other gaffes include a 2006 Camry with a gray interior and a tan steering wheel (every other gray interior car had a gray wheel), a Mitsubishi Outlander with the word “lander” on it’s back end and a Mazda B2300 with a Ford symbol on the engine(the others had Mazda symbols.

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