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.



Sunnybrook Farm said...

We are turning into a socialist country with products that are substandard. If the company starts to fail, the government will give them more money. We still excel in areas where the government hasn't become involved where failure is an option.

Expatriate Owl said...

Once upon a time, I only had GM cars. My very first car, handed down to me from my grandfather, was a Buick Riviera.

In the late 1970's, I purchased my first new car from a dealer. I didn't like the new American cars, so I bought a Toyota. After 5 years, it was time to move onward, so I bought a new Olds Cutlass. By that time, GM had cleaned up its act. My wife and I had 4 Olds cars between the two of us over the next 25 years.

But when it came time to get my wife a new car again, we saw that the GM brands were no longer viable options. The Oldsmobile Division had had its death sentence pronounced upon it, and it was obvious that GM's technical problems were not limited to Olds.

Today, my wife and I each drive Hondas.

The Empire State Building remains a monument to the genius of Louis G. Kaufman. GM, not so much.

Old NFO said...

Today, NONE of them are worth the money... I don't care who built them.

Dick said...

When I retired my wife and I decided to find the most reliable car we could afford. At a Chevy dealer we found a used Lexus RX300 and at a great price. It was a 2002 and we bought it new years eve 2003. Today we are still driving it with only minor repairs in the last 2 years. No repairs at all before that. I expect to keep driving it for another 5 years at least. It cost 25k and we haven't had a car payment in 8 years.
Leased a Saturn and a Chevy before this and both were nightmares. So was the Pontiac before them.

Dennis said...

My wife and I have two GMC pick-ups.

Mine is a 2004 GMC Sierra with the 350 V8. It has 137,000 miles on it. I have never lifted the hood. Oil change every 3,000 miles, and it is still as tight as the day I bought it.

My wife's is a 1990(!), with the big 454 V8. She tows her horse trailer with it. It has 110,000 miles on it. Never had a problem. Redone brakes,and usual maintenance. It still has the original exhaust system after 24
years! Original shocks.

@Sunnybrook Farm...look up the dictionary definition of "Socialist". That is not us! Try "fascist", its a better fit for where we are heading.

HeroHog said...

My last GM was my 2007 Saturn Ion Quad Coupe III we bought new and it has proven to be a great car but it was the last GM car we will buy so when it came time to get another vehicle we chose a 2013 Ford Escape Titanium and it has been in and out for electronic gremlins in the touch screen controls eight times now and it still isn't right! We will buy another Toyota or Honda for the next one!

Angus McThag said...

It's adorable how people are flocking to Ford as if they're innocent.