Dealers and drivers wait for GM parts to arrive

DELAWARE COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – The first repairs on recalled GM cars began on Monday, but not all dealers have received the parts yet.  The Center for Auto Safety says faulty ignition switches on six GM vehicles are responsible for 13 deaths.

Gail Whitmire of Delaware County stopped driving her 2007 Chevy Cobalt after receiving a recall letter from GM,  even though GM has said owners can still drive their cars with only a single key in the ignition.

“If the letter were to say and GM could say, if you use only the ignition key you’ll be safe…then that would be one thing. But that’s not the story,” said Whitmire.

The recall letter promised that parts to fix recalled cars would arrive at dealers soon, possibly by  mid-April., but Whitmire is skeptical of GM’s timeline.

“I don’t see how they can promise me they’re working as quickly as possible to obtain parts when this has been going on so long, and parts still are not available,” said Whitmire.

As drivers worry about their safety, dealerships are left to deal with the aftermath of GM’s recall.

“I feel sorry for the dealerships. We have dealt with our local dealer (Sam Pierce Chevrolet), for many years and they are just great to deal with.  But they’re kind of in the middle of this as well, and I imagine they have some very unhappy customers,” said Whitmire.

Sam Pierce Chevrolet still had not received the parts to fix recalled cars on Monday, but hoped they would arrive by the end of the week. The dealership has five recalled cars sitting in the lot, while the owners drive loaner cars. If drivers aren’t comfortable driving their recalled cars, they can contact their dealer for a loaner. GM is offering drivers of recalled cars $500 to put toward a new GM vehicle. Whitmire doesn’t think that’s enough.

“So ludicrous. They should be embarrassed they’re offering something like that to people,” said Whitmire.

Rich Leisure works in the Sam Pierce Chevrolet sales department. Leisure says the dealership has been receiving lots of phone calls because the recall is so large, but drivers should not panic.

“The vehicle shuts off, so you still can steer it, the brakes are still working. Everything is still working. So that’s the panic …but it’s not gonna lock up or anything like that. It’s just going to be a situation that disables the vehicle as far as the engine. You still can drive it, you can still apply brakes. You just need to pull over safely,” said Leisure.

Leisure says the problem is just like a car dying for any other reason.

“I’m old enough to remember when cars didn’t have power brakes. It didn’t have power steering. That’s what you’re going to deal with. It’s not gonna have power steering and it’s not gonna have power brakes. So you’re gonna have to operate the vehicle in that manner,” said Leisure.

Whitmire still believes the problem is too dangerous for drivers to get behind the wheel.

“If I were in the vehicle, I certainly wouldn’t want anybody in the car with me. And if something happens with our vehicle and it goes awry, there’s so much possibility of harming somebody else,” said Whitmire.

Leisure said the repairs will take about 30 minutes for each car, once the parts arrive. The dealership plans on adding extra staff and working late, if necessary to finish the repairs quickly.

But Whitmire said too much time has already passed.

“They’ve known about this difficulty since way back when… I am aware their engineers found this problem at least ten or eleven years ago and reported it, and said this ignition fix isn’t up to the GM standard for safety,” said Whitmire.

You can check to see if your car has been recalled here.

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