Answering the recall: Local dealer working to replace ignition switches
NATCHEZ — The addition of 8.2 million vehicles to General Motor’s recall list of cars with defective ignition switches is expected to keep one local dealership busy until the end of the year.
GM’s safety crisis deepened dramatically last week when the automaker added 8.2 million vehicles in North America to its ballooning list of cars recalled over faulty ignition switches. GM has now issued five recalls for 17.1 million cars with defective switches, spanning every model year since 1997.
GM said keys may be jostled or accidentally bumped, causing the ignition to slip out of the “run” position and suggested cars that fall on the recall list need to have the part replaced.
“If you have a problem, we won’t turn it away,” said Kenny Jackson, general manager of Great River Chevrolet GMC dealership.
Jackson said the dealership has been dealing with a constant flow of recalled vehicles since the beginning of the year, and that it has not slowed down.
“If any qualified mechanics want to come to work, we’ll hire them,” Jackson said. “We have plenty of work.”
Ignition switches in models such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion can unexpectedly slip from “run” to “accessory,” causing engines to stall. That shuts off the power steering, making cars harder to control, and disables air bags in crashes. GM says the problem has caused at least 13 deaths, but some members of Congress put the death toll near 100.
The process of replacing the ignition switch takes nearly two hours to complete, Jackson said.
Great River replaces the ignition on any cars on the recall list even if the car is not showing any ignition problems.
Ricky Warren, service manager at Great River said the dealership takes anywhere from five to 10 vehicles a day to replace the ignition, in addition to the other standard vehicle service work the dealership provides.
Even though Warren said Great River has been replacing ignitions daily, he has not seen any cars with ignitions that have already broken come into the dealership.
Warren said the problem with the ignition is that the impacted cars can lose power while being driven.
GM’s ignition recall safety information said that the car turning off is more likely when the keys are heavy and if the car is driven on a rough road.
Another issue is that the ignition key may come out of the console when the car while the car is still running.
GM suggests to removing everything from the key and making sure the vehicle is in park before trying to remove the key.
The affected cars include the Saturn ION from 2003-2007, Saturn Sky from 2007-2010, Chevrolet Cobalt from 2005-2010, Chevrolet HHR from 2006-2011, the Pontiac G5 from 2007-2010 and the Pontiac Solstice from 2007-2010.
Warren said Great River has ordered nearly 400 spare parts to fix this problem, and GM is sending more every month to help solve the problem.
“There’s no reason to get upset about it,” Jackson said.
Jackson said the process does not take long, and that the dealership is allowed to give a customer a loaner car on a case-by-case basis.
“We try to make the best out of a bad situation,” Jackson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.