By on April 6, 2014


DETROIT, MI — A spokesperson for Generic Motors confirmed today that the company will be recalling approximately 2.34 million vehicles built between 2008 and 2013 for a defect in which activating the seat heaters can cause a certain chemical reaction in the driver and passenger seats, leading to sudden changes in the foam seat padding and spring structure that can lead to a loss of control.

0. Engineering Division, Generic Motors — “Tell me how this happens again?”
“It’s complicated. Sort of. When you hit the seat heater button twice in a row within a second or so, the controller shorts out and causes the heating element to leak one of the chemicals into the foam. It makes the foam heat to about 500 degrees Celsius, at which point it escapes the seat through, ah, the circular aperture in the spring plate.”

“Which means…”

“Which, ah, means that there’s what you can think of as a hot jet of, well, a plasma kind of foam, almost, that exits in a columnar fashion from the top of the lower seat bolster near where it joins the hinge.”

“A hot jet of foam.”


“Shaped like a column.”


“That exits where exactly?”

“Well, in the cases we’re seeing in the field, it tends to hit the driver or passenger in the, ah, perineal-rectal area.”

“What you’re telling me is that hitting the seat heater button twice in a row —”

“Which, I want to remind you, is not recommended in the manual.”

“— Performing this non-recommended action results in the customer being fucked in the ass by a burning hot column of seat foam.”

“Depending on seating position.”

“How ‘depending’ are we talking here?”

“In three of the cases, the, ah, what we’re calling the ‘foam penetrator’ or, informally, the ‘foam-doe’ actually struck the customer in the perineum, causing nothing more than a brief hospitalization.”

“And the others? What happened?”

“We saw either vaginal or anal penetration in the others.”

“How many?”

“We’ve been able to identify fewer than, ah, three hundred cases.”

“You’re telling me that our product has raped three hundred customers.”

Fewer than three hundred. And every one of whom, I hasten to remind you, performed a non-recommended action with the seat heater button.”

“Jesus. When did we find out.”

“Slightly before Job One.”

SLIGHTLY BEFORE JOB ONE?!?? Didn’t we have a fix?”

“There’s a fix. By changing the resistor in location A23 in the schematic I sent you to an approved carbon-film model,
we could have completely eliminated the problem. But there was a cost.”

“How much?”

“Eleven cents.”

Eleven cents?

“Multiplied, I remind you, by 2.34 million cars. That’s a quarter-million dollars out of my budget.”

“As opposed to the trillion-dollar judgment we’re facing now.”

“Let me tell you a little parable. When your department overspends by a quarter-million dollars, it’s a ‘you problem’. When our company is hit with a trillion-dollar penalty, it becomes China’s problem.”

“I don’t even understand how that would be the case.”

“The seat heaters were made in China.”

“I thought you said they were made here.”

“Out of Chinese resistors.”

“But you picked the wrong resistor.”

“Because I don’t read Mandarin, obviously.”

* * *

1. Democratic Party Headquarters, Washington D.C. — “Let me get this straight. You’re telling me that the company that we bailed out, that the President specifically mentioned as his greatest economic achievement in his last SOTU, built two million cars that set their occupants’ colons on fire.”

“I don’t think we need to spin it that way. I think we say, listen, the American economy is on fire, the President’s actions lit a fire under the ass of the American economy, and that’s a good thing, but in any recovery, you’ll have the people who, through racism or homophobia, are left behind.”

“So you’re telling me that the people who were killed by what they’re already calling the ‘rape chairs’ were victims of racism or homophobia.”

“No, they’re the perpetrators.”

“You’re serious about this.”

“Absolutely. Listen. Educated, decent people — the people who voted for us, who lead the American opinion — they all buy Toyotas. The only people who actually buy these shitty cars made here in America are those racist rednecks in Mississippi, because they don’t know any better. And none of them are our voters. When they bother to leave their trailers, they actually vote the straight KKK party line.”

“There’s a KKK party line?”

“Well, it’s the Republican party, but the latest Zogby shows that eighty-nine percent of San Francisco residents think the KKK controls the Republican party. Which makes it effectively true.”

“So what’s our spin on this? What do we tell the media to say tomorrow?”

“We say that white-collar non-union employees designed these so-called boo-foo seats and that although the members of the UAW fought them tooth and nail, the corporate scumbags triumphed. And we show footage of the 2012 strike at the plant where these shitboxes were built.”

“But wasn’t that strike because Generic Motors was no longer providing caviar in the employee cafeteria?”

“Strictly speaking, there was still caviar. But you should have seen it. We’re talking small eggs here. But what’s important is that there was a strike.”

“Give me the high concept.”

“The President saved the American worker, but he was betrayed by talk radio.”

“That doesn’t even make any sense.”

“I’m not seeing how that’s a problem.”

* * *

2. Publishing office of Engine Trend magazine, Los Angeles, CA — “Are we going to do a story about this recall?”

“What recall?”

“You know, the whole thing where the talk radio guys put the bad seats in the Generic Motors sedans.”

“Jesus, that sounds terrible. Who let them in the plant?”

“It’s not clear. But I read on Facebook this morning that two-million-plus cars are violently ass-fucking their drivers with a hot spear of burning foam. There have been hundreds of deaths. In one case, a driver drove a seven-seat SUV through a schoolyard full of disabled children before the rest of the car caught fire and the whole thing ended up blowing up an animal shelter somehow.”

“Did we ever review any of these cars?”

“Yes, you did a ‘Face 2 Face’ segment where you said, on camera, that, and I quote, ‘this new ponycar is hot enough to burn your sigmoid colon.'”

“That sounds like I knew this was going to happen.”

“I don’t think that’s a concern. Judging from our YouTube comment analytics, eighty-three percent of viewers think you’re developmentally handicapped.”

“The other seventeen percent?”

“They think you’re Rutledge Wood.”

“That’s encouraging. I like Rut’s work.”

“Who doesn’t?”

“How many pages of ads did Generic buy last month?”

“Inside front cover, inside back, fourteen inside pages, plus two Special Advertising Sections, one of which was entitled ‘Our New Seats Will Fire You Up.'”

“We need to be smart about this. Has anybody here in this office actually seen this so-called seat-dildo-ing happen?”

“Rachel from Accounting had her IUD melted on the way to Starbucks yesterday before she hit a bus stop full of young urban men who were on their way to make a difference in a disaster-affected community.”

“Anybody on the actual editorial staff?”

“Jason saw a gas station explode off the 405 last night when some poor bastard’s seat blew up underneath him as he was driving away from the pump. Said it was momentarily brighter than the sun in July.”

“Has it happened to any of our press cars yet?”

“No, but we —”

“Then it’s not real. Let’s just pretend it hasn’t happened. Let’s face it, the customers need to stop being such whiny bitches. I had a seat problem recently myself.”

“In the —”

“On a British Airways flight. I was in the upstairs lounge of a 747 on the way to the introduction of the PanArabia Triple Turbo SS when I experienced a drip of water from an air conditioner.”


“You’re not kidding. I had them land the plane at Gibraltar and change equipment.”

* * *

3. City Motors, Dubuque, IA — “We got a fax this morning that says we have to stop sale on everything but trucks.”

“I wasn’t aware we had anything but trucks on the lot.”

“We don’t.”

“Narrow escape, if you ask me.”

* * *

4. Republican Party HQ, Washington DC — “Well, gentlemen, the writing is on the wall for the midterms. The way the President’s mishandling this whole rape-seat thing, I don’t see how we can do anything but take control of both houses.”

“I can’t believe we got away with having the talk radio guys sabotage the seats.”

“That didn’t happen, you moron.”

“But Brian Williams said —”

“That was just the Democratic spin! We had nothing to do with it! Do you believe everything you watch on TV?”


“Listen. You’re not totally wrong, though. It was kind of our fault. Under the previous administration, we wrote and enacted the ‘Resistors To China Act’, which we told the press was about ‘resisting China’s economic dominance’ but actually made it illegal for American companies to have resistors made anywhere but China.”

“That sounds like an actively evil thing to do.”

“To the contrary. We obtained twelve thousand yuan in campaign contributions from Chinese resistor makers.”

“That’s how much in our money?”

“I’m not sure. But it doesn’t matter, because the Chinese own all the dollars now and someday you’ll need a shopping basket full of Benjamins to buy one yuan.”

“So what happens now?”

“It’s simple. The President will be forced to fine Generic Motors ten trillion dollars. And that will force them into bankruptcy, so the government will have to loan them twelve trillion dollars.”

“What’s the extra two trillion for?”

“It goes directly to the banks.”

“They’re too big to fail.”

“Exactly. So the government will effectively fine itself money. The UAW will want a piece of the pie, so they’ll be handed another ten percent of the company.”

“But doesn’t combined union and government control spell disaster for an auto company?”

“I’m not sure about that. Didn’t British Leyland do okay?”

“Who were they?”

“The people who made the MGB. Anyway. Generic Motors can’t be put out of business. It’s politically impossible. They’ll continue to build crappy cars in a kind of guaranteed-employment program. That reminds the transplant factories in the South, the ones who pay our salaries, that they’re never more than one big economic crisis from being seized and nationalized, Zimbabwe-style. So they’ll pay us to keep that from happening, while Generic cashes out the Dems and the UAW.”

“That’s how Fairfax County overtook Oakland County as the wealthiest county in America.”

“For a guy who thinks Rush Limbaugh sabotaged seat foam, you’re not that stupid.”

“No, I’m not stupid. But I am cold. Hey, why didn’t the light come on when I hit the seat heaters? Let me try this again.”


* * *

DETROIT, MI — A spokesperson for Generic Motors called the landmark $13T fine for exploding seat foam in its vehicles “fair and balanced”. A representative from the UAW indicated his delight that experienced UAW personnel would be placed in charge of visually inspecting each resistor coming from China. A funeral for the recently-deceased Speaker Of The House, John Bonar, and his assistant was marred by the unexpected explosion of the funeral company’s professional car two miles away from the chilly grave site. In a separate statement, Generic Motors assured customers that they would be able to once again drive their automobiles in as little as seven months, “as new resistors arrive from our valued manufacturing partners.”

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58 Comments on “Sunday Story: “Vignettes Of The Recent Recall” by Jack Baruth...”

  • avatar

    So basically, the defect turns your seat cushion into a fusion reactor?

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Despite all the wit that Jack can muster (and it’s considerable), the truth is that we’re living in a time when satire can hardly top the sorry truth of the matter. (If Jonathan Swift were alive now, he’d pull his hair out trying.) For a long time, I thought people were really kidding until I finally realized that they actually were not.

    • 0 avatar

      So true, maybe that’s why comedians like John Stewart and bill maher have become political commentators, because what’s going on now is so ridiculous there’s nothing to satirize.

  • avatar

    I’ll bet there are people living right now who could read this in its entirety without a single guffaw. Just sad clucking sounds. And they all work for NPR.

  • avatar

    Actually, you missed the part where someone tries to pass it off as a malfunctioning ejector seat.

  • avatar

    I believe every word. Especially the part about visual inspection of resistors.

  • avatar

    Greed of corporations, crappy Chinese products manufactured beyond the range of US supervision, poorly trained and low paid workers, a public that believes perfection is the minimum or else they sue and a government that panders, not leads…….the recipe for disaster in Healthcare. Oh wait!!! We were discussing the auto busines???????

  • avatar

    I needed a Sunday Morning smiler and this one was good , thanx Jack .


  • avatar

    Way better than those other Sunday stories. Thanks for the chuckles.

  • avatar

    “I’m not sure about that. Didn’t British Leyland do okay?”
    Yes indeed, BL excelled itself at what it did*, in fact you should encourage the Russians and Chinese to copy this idea.
    Unlike the Germans with their high quality build and simple designs. Hah looooseers! Where are they now eh?

    *That being sabotaging the plans of the running Dogs of Capitalism by gradually placing hard Left wingers in positions of influence then seeing how long until their simple minded ideas take to ruin it.

  • avatar

    Great story Jack. I would say at least 50% of it was completely true.

  • avatar

    Thanks for the laugh! Tears are still streaming down my face and my belly aches.

  • avatar

    How dare you! The people you so ineffectively ‘mock’ are important and successful. And you?

  • avatar

    Thanks Jack – I enjoyed this very much. I wish it wasn’t as funny, meaning I wish it was less accurate.

  • avatar

    Hahahahaha, absolutely superb!!!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    And that… is The Truth About Cars!

    Nice work.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I have found this to be a very amusing piece that accurately distorts reality.

    Boy, you must continue to take the medication you are on!

  • avatar

    Wait a minute. I thought the Sunday Stories were supposed to be, um, fiction.

  • avatar

    The ‘ view ‘ from the bullpen of the Bean Counters at GM when the problems were first discovered ;

    Middle manager ” Hey boss … we’ve got this issue with the ignition switch … not to mention a whole raft of other problems across the line up that have the potential to be deadly . But for $.59 to $5.75 per unit we can nip this thing in the bud toot suite ”

    Upper management ” Awwww .. heck … Nadars retired for all practical purposes .. the governments in such a mess they’ll never notice .. ObamaClause is completely caught up in PRISM Immigration and Drones … the public is a bunch of idiots who will believe anything we tell them . And anyway … like I keep telling you greenhorn . They are NOT customers ! They ARE a commodity . To be bought – sold – sold to – traded etc on a whim . So who cares if we knock a few off here and there . Did us no harm back in the day with the Corvair now … did it ? And was with Nadar at the forefront “

  • avatar

    Will there be Congressional hearings about this? Will the federal Department of Justice investigate possible criminal charges?:

    Thirty people are known dead and another 13 are missing, presumed dead as well, after that mudslide in Washington.

    “As searchers look for the last of the missing in Oso, Washington, where a massive landslide virtually wiped out the small community, it’s becoming more obvious that authorities knew about but failed to fully heed the warnings of scientists that such a disaster was a real threat.

    Not only that, they even considered – but then rejected – a suggestion that they buy out home and business owners whose properties lay just across the Stillaguamish River from a steep hill that had fallen away several times before.

    The Seattle Times newspaper reported this week that Snohomish County officials analyzed the situation, finding that the costs of a buyout “would be significant, but would remove the risk to human life and structures.”

    Instead, they decided to build a wall intended to stabilize the slope, leaving existing structures in place and allowing more to be built. Eight people in those newer homes are dead or missing from the landslide, including four children, the newspaper reported.”

    “County officials considered the 900-foot option but eventually settled for reinforcing the slope. They did not commit to even the partial buyout suggested in the engineering report.

    The properties are still privately owned.

    Even if the county had gone with the 900-foot option, as geologists had proposed years earlier, the huge mudslide still would have taken lives and flattened homes.

    It plowed across the river and buried the Steelhead Haven community, ending more than double the 900-foot distance cited in one expert’s “most likely” scenario for a major slide.

    Officials in Snohomish County did not return calls Wednesday.

    Peter Hahn, director of Public Works in Snohomish County when the buyout plan was considered, said he did not recall the issue.

    Meg Moorehead, who was the county’s section manager on watershed planning and flood analysis, said she did not recall the discussion.”

    GM is getting raked over the coals because memos concerning the ignition switch issue say “none of the solutions represents an acceptable business case”. Are Snohomish County officials’ comments about “significant” costs any different?

    I’ve said this before, if there’s corruption involved, if NHTSA failed to do their job or if there was a coverup at GM, that’s less troubling to me than the fact that bad parts got approved and installed, which to me raises a lot more safety concerns than human corruption. However, if we’re going to get all excited about human corruption, let’s have some consistent standards.

    • 0 avatar

      You might look up the History of Freedom County! With a name like that you can pretty much guess their POV.

      Oso is in the proposed Freedom County.

      It was all about succession and property rights, they elected an alternative legislature including sheriff “Fnu Lnu” .

      The so called commissioner at the time and his spouse were victims of the Oso slide. RIP.

      Snohomish county probably decided they could not fight these guys, and they wouldn’t relocate. Bad blood there.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Ronnie, for a guy who’s usually a very clear thinker, this post is a mish-mosh of confusing indictments and exculpations. Sometimes, the most egregious behavior leads to the most minor of harms, and just a little dumb decision by a panicked underling ends up in calamity. I thought that the sorry part of the GM situation was not that a part proved defective, but that GM didn’t immediately come clean, take responsibility for any harm done, and create a new part with a new number asap. That they didn’t do. And I, at least, put this at the feet of the higher-ups who would normally make such decisions. Comparing this to the various failures surrounding the mudslide is pretty tricky. Lots of times in life, people hear what they want to hear. Can it be that absolutely no one knew of the possible dangers lurking nearby? Think of all the folks presently living on the San Andreas fault, for example. Or for that matter, living in the most fire-prone areas outside the LA region. Many of us tempt fate at every turn. Perhaps it’s a way of denying the biggest fate of all.

  • avatar

    Generic Motors attorney: Mr. Haridgree we demand that Jalopnik return the recalled press cars NOW!

    Matt Hardigree: (lighting a cigarette) Travis, was that as good for you as it was for me, want to change seats? (returns to phone call) We have told you that we’re not done testing these cars and that was part of our sponsored content agreement. *Matt’s mind drifts off to memories of Castro Steet…*

  • avatar

    If we’re going to start writing fiction (and this was awesome) for the love of God start paying crabspirits for his amazing work and just put it up as a story hand-in-hand with the junkyard finds.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Hilarious read, but couldn’t you have used an illustration other than a pair of Fiero seats? The poor Fiero has already taken enough ridicule for setting its drivers’ asses on fire!

    • 0 avatar

      That’s the first thing I saw: the logo from my old ride. Had a chuckle. That trope was as part of owning a Fiero as the “gay” thing is to Miatas.

  • avatar

    And to think, I was banned from this site for saying Herr Schmidt had sand in his vagina.

    (Note: no one ever responded to my emails requesting being unbanned so I had to do it myself by creating a new account).

    This story would be even funnier if it weren’t true!!!

  • avatar

    You had me going until the Dubuque part. They have at least two Camaros on the lots here as well. Of course, they probably got snapped up from residents just across the border as soon as the story got out.

  • avatar

    That’s why Folkswagon in Germany comes with rotary dials for their heated seats.

  • avatar

    Ford recommending underinflation of Firestone tires instead of paying the money for a proper suspension and/or stability control lead to the Exploder fiasco.

    Ford saving a few dollars per part on an all-plastic manifold for the mod-V8 led to hundreds of dollar per part replacement/repair when the all-plastic manifolds failed.

    GM saving $0.57 per ignition switch on GD Cobalts and Ions has killed dozens and maimed hundreds.

    Jeeps barbeque themselves whenever rear-ended like Pinto’s of old, and Chrysler stubbornly refused to recall and repair.

    Toyota’s ghost in the machine (and or/rug) accelerated them to a Billion dollar government payout.

    As Lutzian a comment as it may be, Maximum Bob did have a valid point. The beancounters won. Or at least overpowered the engineers.

    I see it in government all day. Us engineers tell the policy makers something they don’t want to hear. Invariably we’re told to either violate the laws of physics, to find some legalistic loophole to avoid responsibility, or find a sacrificial lamb to slaughter when all hell breaks loose.

    At least private industry isn’t much different, apparently.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Jack; a story full of wit and dark humor. Congrats!

    On something more serious:
    could I have some of your Vicodin, please? I have to finish an urgent report on a defective component, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot find a plausible scapegoat.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse


    Date: April 6, 2014

    Subject: Upcoming Safety Recalls 13454 and 14063 Faulty Seat Heater Element Resistor

    Customer Notification Letter Mailing

    Models: 2008 – 2013 equipped with seat heaters

    Buick (all models)
    GMC (all models)
    Chevrolet (all models)
    Cadillac (all models)

    To: All General Motors Dealers

    Attention: General Manager, Service Advisor, Service Manager, Parts and Service Director, Parts Manager, Used Vehicle Sales Manager, and Warranty Administrator

    You were previously advised that General Motors will be implementing safety recalls that involve 2008-2013 model year (MY) GM vehicles equipped with seat heaters. There is a risk, under certain conditions, if the seat heater button is pressed two times successively (non-recommended customer action) there may be a risk of resistor malfunction and seat-foam fire and/or lower orifice penetration of the front seat occupants.

    You are to advise any concerned owners not to use the seat heater function in their vehicles. As an additional precaution, we have made available to all affected customers, free of charge, a precautionary safety measure. This measure consists of a loaner device – a flanged, narrow waisted and tapered round-edged cone – otherwise known as a butt plug. The insertion of a butt plug into the rectum has been found to lower the risk of flaming foam injury. Customers may pick up their loaner butt plugs starting April 14, 2014 at any GM dealership along with detailed customer installation instructions.

    Important Note: GM will not provide rectum insertion device lubricants, which are recommended when butt plugs are in use. The company will be providing a selection of preferred lubrication brands for sale in all GM parts and service departments.

    You will be getting a separate notification soon with instructions concerning the return of loaner butt plugs once customers’ vehicles have been installed with replacement resistors.

    Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

  • avatar

    Rectum… dam near killed ’em.

  • avatar

    You lost me at “penatration.”

  • avatar

    Jack, I’m sorry, but what ever it is bothering you, please take the Rx until all the pills are gone. I used to think of you as the natural heir to Brock at his caustic, cynical best. Perhaps you should find someone else to critique these pieces – pre-publication? Surely I am not the only one noticing this regression. Hope springs eternal, and maybe you’ve just neglected Red Green’s advice to “keep your stick on the ice”? Remember, we’re all in this together.

  • avatar

    Is all well with our esteemed EIC Pro Tem? I don’t think I had to go this long without a JB penned piece when you wrecked the Panther. Pa’s got things for you to do. And my mother wants you. I know she does. Jack! Come back, Jack!

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