Bark's Bites: Something Less Than a Total Recall

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth
bark s bites something less than a total recall

Meet Angela. TTAC, Angela. Angela, TTAC.

Angela is a recent graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, a bright young woman, and a hell of a bartender. She’s been working full time and going to school full time for the last several years, and she’s been relying on her 2008 Chevy Malibu to get her back and forth between school and work.

However, a little over a month ago, she started to notice a serious problem. I think it’s best if I let her tell it in her own words:

I noticed that my steering wheel/power steering was acting up. At first, it was hard to turn make tight turns (like when parking). It then escalated into “jerking” while driving, ever so slightly. It almost felt like the alignment was off…way off. Eventually, the problem started getting worse. When I would drive at rates of speed higher than 65 mph, the jerking would occur more frequently. At times, it would almost carry the vehicle into another lane. SCARY! For some reason or another, when the weather is either really cold or really hot, the power steering warning will display on the dash info center when I start the vehicle. The wheel would also randomly shake from left to right when I was not touching it all. It was like the exorcist had taken over at a stop light.

To be honest, I thought the problem was just my power steering fluid was low—or my car was slowly falling apart. I took it to a local Firestone to check it out. 20 minutes after I dropped the car off, I got a phone call from Firestone, explaining that they had never seen the problem before and had to do research on the situation. After doing research, they discovered that there was a massive recall and advised me to take the car to the dealership immediately to get the problem fixed.

Let me stop right there. I have received several recalls for my 2008 Chevy Malibu over the past year or two. None of the recalls regarded this matter. NONE! They were all for either the ignition switch or the gear shift not displaying the correct gear—which, by the way, had never been a problem with my vehicle at all.

I called a local Chevy dealer, Carl Black Chevy, and spoke with the service advisor. She ran my VIN and told confirmed that yes, my car was one of the models recalled for the power steering issues. I asked her to set up an appointment to get the problem fixed, at which point she explained that they were waiting on the shipment of replacement parts. I asked if I could take it to another dealer and was told no, because no one has the parts. Excuse me? She said that GM has not released the parts to dealerships yet. Listen, I realize that I may be “car illiterate,” but that sounded shady. I called another dealer and went the through exactly the same conversation with Freeland Chevy in Nashville.

My blood was boiling at this point. I went home and did research on the situation myself. I found that the recall happened in March and it was now June. Fed up, I decided to call GM directly. The customer service rep I spoke with in the recall department told me that GM has ordered X amount of replacement parts, but they have not been released yet. Also, they are unable to pinpoint when the parts will be released or be shipped to dealerships.

When I asked the man what they are doing to solve the problem, he answered my question by asking, “What would you like GM to do for you?” Clearly, I just want my car to be fixed! It is dangerous to drive it and it seems as if GM just doesn’t care that millions of cars are driving around like a ticking time bomb.

I called back a few days later to see if I could get any more information. The story hadn’t changed. When I asked why GM was comfortable with allowing their loyal customers to be unsafe in their products, the gentleman offered to give me a loaner vehicle. I thought this was a great offer, and was told that the service manager from the dealership closest to me would contact me about setting a time to drop my car off and get the loaner. Guess what…I never got that call.

So here I am today, with a vehicle that clearly has issues. I literally am taking a huge risk every time I get in it. The wheel shakes and jerks when I drive. Half the time, I look like a drunk driver weaving along the interstate. I’m sure GM will fix it, but who knows when this will happen? Also, to this day, I still have not received a recall notice in the mail on the power steering issue.

Seems like the New GM is still operating much like the Old GM. If you were Angela, what would you do?

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2 of 102 comments
  • NTGD NTGD on Jun 30, 2014

    I actually got the recall notice about this last week(also have an 08 Malibu) and it stated that the parts weren't available. You can go to to look up recalls that your vehicle might be affected by. Seems to be some knowledgeable people on this post so is it common for recalls to take awhile after being announced? This post made me decide to follow up on the brake light recall that also effects the 08 Malibu and other related cars. It was announced on May 15 but notices won't start going out until July 13th. In this case the parts seem to be ready (just finished an online chat with Chevrolet customer care and they told me I could get the car fixed now and seek reimbursement once I get the recall notice). Is that normal, notices going out two months after a recall is announced?

  • Dude500 Dude500 on Jun 30, 2014

    Disconnect the power steering pump. It'll be tougher to drive at slow speeds, but at least the steering will be linear and won't jerk around.

  • Tassos There is nothing 'weird' about Finland's fine system. A few other nations have it too. Switzerland maybe, I am not sure.But you do not specify WHAT was that clown's income that required him to pay $120k for a speeding ticket?I am sure that for somebody like ELon Musk, $100k will barely operate his megayacht ONE LOUSY Day.
  • Bkojote On paper, GMC is supposed to be the understated, more sophisticated member of the GM truck family.In actuality, GMC is total garbage in the truck world - by the time they're on their second owner they're decked out with amazon wheel spacers, pizza dish wheels, punisher stickers, and really angry opinions about any president who's won the popular vote in the past two decades. And man, these things are ugly as sin too.That's because GM trucks as a whole are kinda the also-rans in the truck category. Yeah, they do sales, but they aren't anyone's first choice. Not as extreme as the Ram, not as category defining as the Raptor, not as well engineered as a Toyota, so you end up with owners who compensate big time to distract others from the endless repair bills. The only owners I know who are worse are the rollin' coal lifted Super Duty drivers. Like you bought a GMC because the guy who sold you your wife's acadia is less scary than having to grovel for a Raptor and you take the Ford guys making fun of you personally.
  • Tassos The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I have mentioned this before, and it applies here again.Go to the U of Michigan College of Engineering parking lot. How can you say what car the $300,000 a year (ACADEMIC year of 9 months, mind you, summer pay is extra, and consulting a whole lot on top of that) and what does the $50,000 a year secretary drive?Hint: Teresa was out chair's secretary, started a year ago. She had to resign in just a few months because her 75 mile EACH WAY from her home in Lapeer MI to ANn Arbor MI just KILLED HER when gas prices rose.What car did Teresa drive? Take a wild guess. An F150? A Ram pickup? A Silverado? One of these. In a fee months she had to resign and find a lesser job in the whole lot lesser U of M Flint (but why would she care? she's just a secretary), which halved her commuting distance to a still significant 75 mile round trip every damned day.So the poor keep buying pickups and get poorer, and the rich keep NOT buying them and get richer.
  • Cprescott It is ugly enough. But why? You refuse to build enough of your products for your consumers.
  • Cprescott Only if your income also gives you more votes.