As General Motors deals with a major recall crisis, it has reached out to car owners affected by the recall. However, the plan to give loaner cars to drivers of the 1.6 million affected vehicles is off to a bumpy start.
Ruth to the Rescue cameras followed Megan Gappy of Roseville as she picked up her loaner at Moran Chevrolet in Clinton Township.
"Oh, it makes me feel so much more relaxed," she told Ruth to the Rescue on March 13th. She said her experience with the rental went extremely well. That's what General Motors is hoping for as it tries to boost customer confidence during this recall crisis.
The company made two offers to drivers of the recalled cars. First, it offered free loaners to drivers while they wait for repairs, which should happen in early April. Second, General Motors is offering $500 toward a new GM vehicle. That offer is good through April 30.
Unfortunately, other drivers have been telling Ruth to the Rescue the rental process has been problematic. The consumer unit has received calls and Facebook messages that say some dealers were not able to process the loaners as quickly as Moran Chevrolet. As the Ruth to the Rescue made a series of phone calls to different dealers, it became apparent information about the program is still trickling down to the various service departments.
Local 4 Consumer Expert Ruth Spencer spoke with another GM owner who had trouble getting her loaner.
"We called the dealer. They said yep, no problem, you can get one," said Kirsten Swackhamer told Ruth to the Rescue. Based on that conversation, she and her husband went to Enterprise to rent a car. However, when they drove to the dealer to drop off her 2004 Saturn Ion, she received a different response.
"And they said, 'Oh, well unless your car is stalling or not running you can't have it- you have to take it back....They apologized, but the said GM will not pay for it," she said. They returned the rental to Enterprise and send a Facebook message to Local 4.
General Motors Responds
The consumer unit checked with General Motors. The company says it will pay for rental cars and dealers have been getting updated information for the past two days. A spokesman says the loaner program is a major undertaking and there are many moving parts to make it work.
If you're waiting for a loaner, General Motors is telling drivers of the recalled models to avoid using heavy, hanging key chains as that can affect the ignition switch. Those heavy key chains can also be bumped when driving on rough roads.
That was one of Kirsten's concerns about driving her Ion.
"The potholes this year are horrible. I drive 60 miles a day back and forth to work. I work up at Sears in Fenton and I'm scared to drive now," she said.
The recall is so serious because at least 12 deaths have been linked to the problem with ignition switches. Those switches can suddenly turn from the "run" position to "accessory" or "off". That cuts off the power steering and brakes and could cause the driver to lose control.
Ruth to the Rescue Responds
After Local 4 Consumer Expert Ruth Spencer spoke with Kirsten Swackhamer, the consumer unit contacted her local dealer. Within hours, her husband was able to pick up a rental car.
General Motors says the rental process should get smoother as all the dealers get the information they need. If you have any problems, let Ruth to the Rescue know by calling 313-298-WDIV or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven't seen the list of cars affected by the recall, they are listed below.
2005-2007 Chevrolet Cobalt. Pontiac G5
2003-2007 Saturn Ion
2006-2007 Chevrolet HHRs, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky
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