• GM offering $500 new-car discount to drivers affected by ignition-switch recall
  • Recall affects more than 1.5 million vehicles
  • GM also offering free loaner vehicles and free towing for disabled cars

General Motors is recalling more than 1.5 million vehicles for a controversial ignition-switch issue, and now it's offering owners of those vehicles something more than a fixed ignition. The automaker recently announced that it will give a $500 discount to owners of affected vehicles who want a new car.

According to General Motors, drivers affected by the recall can apply the $500 credit to any new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac. While the vast majority of drivers will likely have their cars fixed rather than take the discount, the offer is an important goodwill gesture for GM, given that the ignition-switch recall has been linked to more than 30 accidents and 12 deaths.

The automaker announced the recall several weeks ago. According to GM and the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the recall is necessary because affected vehicles may turn off while moving if a driver's keychain is carrying too much added weight, such as extra keys. The issue affects several GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, the Pontiac G5 and Solstice and the Saturn Ion and Sky.

Beyond the discount, General Motors has taken steps to put anxious customers at ease with several other plans related to the recall. For example, the automaker says it will tow disabled cars for free. It also says that it will provide free loaners to affected customers who don't want to drive their cars until parts arrive to fix the ignition issue. That could be several weeks, as General Motors says the first parts won't be available until early April.

To some observers, these steps may seem unusually severe for a recall. Typically, automakers mail recall notices to affected customers and expedite parts, but they rarely provide long-term loaners or new-car discounts. But this particular recall has been especially serious for General Motors, given the number of deaths involved and the widely reported possibility that the automaker knew of the problem several years ago.

If you own an affected vehicle, General Motors recommends removing all items from your key ring until the recall has been performed.

What it means to you: GM's $500 discount is a good gesture toward car owners who might not be especially pleased with the automaker right now.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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