This April 1, 2014 photo shows the ignition switch of a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt in Alexandria, Va. A federal judge in Texas on Thursday, April 17, 2014 denied an emergency motion that would have forced General Motors to tell owners of 2 million recalled cars to stop driving their vehicles until their ignition switches are repaired. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
GM Recall Has Some Drivers Worried
Buffalo, NY (WBEN/AP) Nine million parts. That's what General Motors needs to repair millions of cars it has recalled since Feb. 7. With ignition switches, power steering motors and other parts slowly arriving at dealers, frustrated drivers face waits of weeks or months, some while driving cars they fear are unsafe.
Jeff Gilbert of WWJ in Detroit says one reason why it's taking so long: the logistics of getting the needed parts. "People don't realize when auto companies do recalls, they also have to figure out how to repair it and where do you get the parts from," explains Gilbert, who says Delphi in Mexico is firing up plants to make the needed parts. He anticipates fall before all the parts are in the pipeline.
GM is under fire because it knew about the problem with the ignition switches for 10 years before conducting the recall. Two congressional committees, the Justice Department and federal safety regulators are investigating GM's slow response, and criminal charges are possible. GM has hired lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to negotiate settlements with surviving families and some injured drivers.
So far, the company says it isn't going to use its 2009 bankruptcy as a shield from wrongful death and injury claims. However, it is seeking bankruptcy court protection from claims that its small cars lost value.
Wendi Kunkel's 2010 Chevy Cobalt is part of the switch recall. Her dealer told her to pull everything off her keychain, which GM contends will stop the switches from turning off unexpectedly. But she's nervous about her 30-minute one-way commute near Dallas.
"I'm on a highway where I'm going 65 mph," the public relations representative says. "If my car were to switch into accessory or off, the likelihood of me crashing and not having air bags deployed - it's pretty terrifying to think about."
Kunkel says her dealer, Lakeside Chevrolet in Rockwall, Texas, didn't initially offer her a loaner, although she plans to ask for one.
Frank Pecora, Lakeside's service manager, said the dealership doesn't offer loaners unless customers express concern for their safety, per instructions from GM.
So far, GM has put 45,000 customers in loaners, equal to 1.7 percent of the cars recalled for the ignition switches. GM isn't offering loaners to car owners affected by the other recalls. Duane Paddock, owner of Paddock Chevrolet in Kenmore, says he's offering loaners on his own dime to keep customers happy. Recalls are often profitable for dealers such as Paddock because GM provides the parts and pays for installation. Also, owners of older cars travel to dealerships for repairs and see the company's new vehicles while they wait.
Gilbert says the dealers he's spoken with tell him customers are mainly taking things in stride. "The dealers have been through this before, so they've trained workers to install them and dealers I've talked to say they've been doing a handful repairs each week," says Gilbert.
As for loaner cars, Gilbert says it will depend on supply and demand from neighborhood to neighborhood.