Local GM Dealers Handling Recalls

Local General Motors dealers are dealing with recalls to several different makes and models.

General Motors is in the process of repairing millions of cars it has recalled since Feb. 7. Some of the areas needing to be fixed include ignition switches, power steering motors and airbags. The recall nationally and locally is presenting challenges for auto dealers and customers.

Any recall can present challenges for automakers and customers. Most recalls include less than 50,000 vehicles and are typically completed in two or three months. But experts say eight simultaneous recalls covering 7 million vehicles is too much for any organization to handle quickly, even one as big as GM. Suppliers have to make the parts – millions aren’t sitting in stock. GM has to notify customers, ship the parts to dealers worldwide and train mechanics how to do repairs. The switches, mainly in older Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, can slip out of the “run” position into “accessory,” shutting off engines and disabling power-assisted steering and air bags.

GM says it will take six months to make and distribute all the parts for the largest recall: 2.6 million small cars with faulty ignition switches that the company has linked to 13 deaths.

General Motors recalled an additional 2.7 million vehicles Thursday as a deep dive into safety issues at the nation’s biggest automaker turned up more problems with some of the cars it built over the past decade.

The latest recalls bring GM’s total for the year in the U.S. to more than 11 million cars and trucks, close to its annual recall record of 11.8 million vehicles, set in 2004.

Brian Martin, Shults Auto Group service manager, said recall parts are taking about a month to get in for each car they’re repairing. He said 175 cars have parts ordered for the recall waiting to be repaired at Shults.

“We place the order by (Vehicle Identification Number),” he said. “GM interprets what parts are needed. You send them the VIN and they send the order. It usually is an ignition switch and two keys. Not all cars get that. Some get just the key and some just the ignition. Depends on what has been done in the past. GM does the order by VIN, and they look at the history of the car and send parts accordingly. Most of the time it takes about a month.”

Martin said GM has issued a statement with talking points to tell customers who need their cars repaired. He said GM states the cars are safe to drive while waiting to be repaired.

“Are the recalled vehicles safe to drive? The simple answer to that question is yes,” said the statement. “The GM engineers have done extensive analysis to make sure if drivers use only the ignition key with no additional items on the key ring, that the vehicle is safe to drive.”

Martin said there are a few customers that are upset because of the long wait.

“We tell them up front the car is safe to drive,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of them understand.”

For Landmark Chevrolet in Randolph, Brent Doolittle, owner, said the cars they are dealing with as part of the recall that have to wait for parts for are still driveable and there is no risk to the vehicle shutting down.

“The only ones waiting for parts for the vehicle are for the Chevy Traverse recall for the side airbag, but the vehicle is still useable,” he said. “That is the only one waiting for parts on, but the vehicle is not out of commission. People can still drive them.”

Doolittle said recalls they have seen for vehicles that could shut off while running, they have the parts in stock or are shipped them immediately. He said according to the National Auto Dealers Association newsletter, there are major recalls for other car companies too, but GM is getting all of the attention.

“GM has been taking the blunt of all the recalls going on, but Ford and Chrysler have similar problems,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.