Sunday, September 28, 2014
General Motors: 29 million reasons not to buy their vehicles
Ever since the politically manipulated, ethically flawed and legally dubious bailout of the US motor vehicle industry, I've said flatly that I'll never buy another new GM or Chrysler vehicle. That hasn't changed. However, there also appear to be other reasons not to buy GM vehicles.
Last week an acquaintance took delivery of a new pickup from one of General Motors' brands. Two days later it died during his morning commute, coasting to a halt in the middle of rush-hour traffic. Fortunately he was able to signal his need to get off the road, and other drivers made an opening so he could pull off to the side. It turned out that there were several recall notices affecting his brand-new pickup, none of which appeared to have been rectified before the salesman handed over the keys. One of them appears to have been responsible for his problem - but the dealer has refused (so far) to refund the towing charge to get the vehicle from where it broke down to its service premises. Needless to say, his comments on the subject, and on the dealer, are incendiary. (I suspect the subject is far from closed.)
Upon hearing his tale of woe, I did some research. During 2014 General Motors has recalled over 29 million vehicles in North America alone. It's been fined $35 million for delays in issuing the recalls, and has set up a fund to compensate those injured or killed as a result of defects in its vehicles. Last month it appeared that at least 19 deaths were 'eligible for compensation', out of 445 claims lodged so far and in the process of adjudication. Meanwhile the recalls continue, the most recent one occurring just last month and affecting upwards of a hundred thousand vehicles. (Time compiled a list of interesting facts about GM's 2014 recalls that make grim reading.)
As part of my ongoing saga of dealing with my pickup's electrical problems (although it's not a GM product), last week I took it in to an auto electrical specialist to let them run extensive diagnostic tests. They didn't find the answers I'd been hoping for, but I took the opportunity to have a long talk with one of their technicians about which used cars were worth buying today, particularly in the light of my acquaintance's problems with his new pickup. The tech gave me a lot of interesting facts from a professional perspective, but one thing he said struck home. He said that in his opinion, any US- or Canadian-built GM vehicle made since about 2005 generally wasn't worth buying. He believed that the company's assembly lines had been run in a careless, slapdash manner, with all sorts of component and build quality defects that he'd encountered time and time again when he repaired problems resulting from or caused by them. As far as he was concerned he'd buy older (pre-2005) GM vehicles, or ones that he'd checked out personally and could be sure that their problems were fixed; but unless I had the technical ability to do that, I shouldn't buy one, new or used.
He added that GM wasn't the only car company making poor products these days. He advised me to read customer feedback about their vehicles at the Car Complaints Web site, and to pay particular attention to their 'Worst Vehicles' list. He said it's an invaluable resource when deciding what (and what not) to buy. I've only taken a quick look at it so far, but it certainly seems to live up to his claims.
Food for thought.