Let’s say you bought a car just under six weeks ago. It’s used, but still under manufacturer’s warranty, plus an extended warranty you purchased from the dealer for another three years/30,000 miles. The car also was “Q” certified (for this dealer, that means an ASE-certified mechanic did a 128-point inspection on the car at trade-in.)
On two separate occasions, you’d asked about service records for the car. You were promised them on one, but they never appeared. The car is virtually immaculate – even under the hood. It purrs like a kitten. So, there doesn’t seem to be any performance issues. But you make a mental note to keep asking just the same. It's good to know what was done and when.
Then, while having a simple oil change (one of two free promised by the dealership) you ask the service tech directly if he can check the records on the GM database, something you can’t do, but a tech can. What he pulls up in a little over a minute astounds you.
“You have an open recall ticket,” he says matter of factly. “That needs to get fixed.” Excuse me?
This is exactly the situation I found myself in this morning. Apparently, this recall has been out there since FEBRUARY 2008! OK. So, WHY WASN’T THIS DONE BEFORE THE CAR WAS EVEN SOLD TO ME?
I managed to shock both the older tech who was using the computer and a young tech standing nearby by asking: “It’s that rear axle thing, isn’t it?” They gave each other a look of surprise and the older one nodded. See, I did my homework before I bought a car. I KNEW there was a recall on this model. I thought that because this was well over a year ago, and, mostly because this never came up during the sales transaction, that this either didn’t affect my car OR that it had been remedied already. Boy, was I wrong!
I didn’t panic about a recall. Most car lines have recalls at some point. In fact, the mother had to take Ladybird in during the first year she had her to get some kind of ignition fitting replaced. Neither that or too many other things -- except wear --have really plagued that car all these years later.
I was livid this morning. I’m still angry. But doing a little searching, I see that the dealership would be held harmless in any event. It’s up to the manufacturer to notify the owner, and the owner to remedy it. If you happen to be a subsequent owner, however, tough sh*t. I guess GM has bigger issues these days than following up on product defects.
My assistant looked at me quizzically when I told her this story. “They’re going to fix it, right? So what do you want them to do?” That made me ponder: How mad should I really be?
Well, yes. They are going to fix it. And, it’s not going to cost me anything. But … it’s the principle of the thing. I know. I am expecting car salesmen to be human beings. Stupid me! But d*mn. You’d think they’d want to check on those things. The manufacturer pays them for such work. Seems like it would be a good, solid business strategy to add that database search to the checklist then, doesn’t it? All you have to do is key in a VIN number. That takes what, 5 seconds?
Ninety seconds of their time or less could have saved me hours (in a return trip, trying to work into schedule, etc.), headache, and frustration. They like to tout how they check for a “clear title” on their vehicles. OK. That’s fine. But why in the hell wouldn’t you check to see if there is uncompleted recall work?! Isn’t that kind of an important thing to ignore, especially when you can just log in and look?
What if, let’s say, I never pushed the issue and didn’t already know about the recall? And, let’s say, I started having a problem with the car that ended up voiding the warranty because the recall work was never done. Then what? I’ll tell you what. I’d either be out a car or in for a very expensive repair, all on my dime. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
What it has done is send up a red flag. What else don’t I know about that I should? And how many of those 128 points did they really check? How can I trust anything these people say now? I thought I had been SO careful and smart, too. I guess not. Live and learn.