Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Car, The Lock And The Key... The GM Recall Of 2014

"The worst dream of the night, when you are parted from someone you love and you do not know exactly where he is, but you know that he is in the presence of danger. You are tormented by a desire to keep the one you love safe."

~Whitney Otto, How To Make An American Quilt

The Lock. 2007 Saturn ION

I am just going to say upfront... this is a RANT! It has to do with the HUGE General Motors Recall Of 2014. It has to do with the fear I feel deep down in my soul, every single time my husband, Alan, gets in his car to leave for work, and then come home at the end of his work day. It has to do with the sleepless nights I have spent, after reading about the various problems other proud G.M. customers have had with their Saturn ION's and other G.M. cars. The repeated repairs at the owners cost. The dismissive behavior of G.M. and their dealerships. And the full on lying about there being any problems with the vehicles at all, because of G.M's bottom line... their loss of profit!

Here is what happened...

On a beautiful day in September of 2006, Alan and I decided that the time had finally come to trade in our 1998 and 1999 Saturns in for new ones. They had served us well, but they were ready to put out to pasture. It was a hard decision, at least for me, because I get attached to inanimate objects, and I absolutely loved my Saturn SL1! Her name was Angelica, and she took me through some profound moments during those years. You never really put it together... how much a car can mean to you... until you go to sell it, and you realize all the memories you make in your car. Vacations. Long drives on Sunday afternoons. The trip to the cemetery to say a final goodbye to your mother. 


Okay, so the decision was made. Our late 1990's cars were reliable and so we reasoned why not just upgrade to the newest model Saturn? Which is what we did. Alan and I bought matching Saturn ION's, his in gold, mine in green. Cypress Green to be exact! I named her Lilith, and she was beautiful! She was dependable and got decent gas mileage, right up until 2 days after the warranty expired in 2009. That's when, for whatever reason, the problems began to happen. And they happened with such frequency that we couldn't afford to keep up with the repairs. Selling the car wasn't an option, because we wouldn't have gotten anything for it, so basically it sat in the driveway as little more than a planter box, while we saved up enough money to get it fixed!


Along the way Alan's car began to experience problems as well. Some of the same that my car had, and some that hadn't affect mine. The repairs were less expensive, but a bit more constant. We were doing our best to hold on until we got to the end of the payments. We finally made it! The pink slips came in the mail, and with the added money we now had each month, we put it together with our full tax return for the following year and put it into fixing my car, with the idea of now, with it completely fixed, I would have a car that was practically new. It only had 20,000 miles on it, and it was 6 years old. So, $3700.00 later, my car was fixed and drove like a dream, for exactly six months. Then the exact same fucking problem happened again!

The car nearly stopped dead on I580! We managed to limp to the side of the road, then we took the nearest exit, but let me tell you, it was some scary moments! Alan and I pulled over, on a street we were unfamiliar with, looked at each other, cussed a while, and agreed... enough was enough! The next day we took the car to a dealership, and traded it in for our current car... a 2013 Chevrolet Spark. And things have been less stressful every since, except for the fact that Alan is still driving his Saturn ION. I want him to get rid of that car, but he has held on because, frankly he just wanted a break from having to make an additional car payment. 


But when I read about what has happened to others who have owned Saturn ION's... it keeps me up nights. I remember him calling me, late in day, and telling me that on his way home the power steering just stopped! Dead. Fortunately he was able to pull the car over, and then limp it home, but how scary is that? The dealership told us it was a faulty ignition switch, but that we would have to pay for it because it wasn't on a recall list. Between his car and mine, we replaced the ignition switch 3 times... at our own expense!

So, sleepless nights and now a letter sitting on my desk, from G.M. finally admitting that there is a problem, but also admitting that they knew there was a problem with the ignition switch put into G.M. cars as far back as the early 2000's. That means that they deliberately put that damn switch in our cars, prior to our purchase of them, knowing there was a safety problem of epic proportions. EPIC! And adding insult to injury, the recall letter reads as follows...

"G.M. is conducting a recall. We apologize for this inconvenience, however we are concerned about your safety and continued satisfaction with our products."

Then the letter goes onto say that they don't currently have the parts to fix the defect, but that they will contact me when they do. Until then, just drive the car with the key off the ring. In fact, drive the car with just the key, no fob. Nadda. Nothing. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?



Alan and I are in the process of considering our options. I don't know what exactly will happen. G.M. says they will pay for the past repairs, which I hope will go easily, but in that we have already sold one of the cars, who knows how that will go. Sheesh. In the mean time, Alan is still using his car to commute to work, and I am losing sleep every time he gets behind the wheel. Hopefully things will be decided soon, but I am not sure. We have had our share of sudden expenses, everything from Elvis's chemotherapy a few years back, to having to install a security system because the new owners of our cottage think they can walk into our gated yard any time they want. 

Life is dumb sometimes. And it's damn inconvenient. But at least we didn't die on the highway like some have. Whenever I get too far into feeling sorry for myself, I think of those poor souls, and I count my blessings, and remember to be grateful for this life. And for Alan. And I say a prayer of thanks, and then I pray for each new day, with the hope that all will be well, not just for us, but for others in the same boat we are in.

What else can I do?

Hey, at least there is a congressional probe underway. Gee, don't I just feel all better now?


~Me :)

*Here Is Why You Should Pay Attention To The G.M. Recall Probe
(The Wire)

*A Complete Guide To The Stunning GM Recall That May Be Linked To Over 300 Deaths
(Business Insider)

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