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Why the GM Recall Shouldn’t Scare You Away

  • At least four GM recalls so far this year
  • About 2.9 million total U.S. vehicles recalled
  • GM to remedy issues at no charge to owners

General Motors is awash in safety recalls. The giant automaker that sells vehicles under the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC brands has issued at least four voluntary safety recalls so far this year. In all, models from each of those brands and three legacy brands are affected. The GM recall addressing a faulty ignition switch is garnering the most attention, sparking discussion in the media and by politicians in Washington. While the spate of recalls is likely to damage GM’s reputation, the automaker’s troubles could prove beneficial to some customers.

One reason is simple: bargaining power. If sales of new GM vehicles slow, the automaker or its dealers could adjust new-car prices to restore demand. That means lower prices for buyers, potentially even on models that are not affected by a recall. Used and certified pre-owned GM vehicles could see similarly lower prices to spur demand. And because federal law requires that recalled vehicles not be sold until they’re repaired, buyers need not worry about buying a defective car or truck.

According to the terms of its voluntary safety recalls, GM will remedy each of the more than 2.9 million vehicles included in the four recalls at no charge to owners. The automaker has already begun notifying owners and fixing Chevy Cobalt, Chevy HHR, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky and Saturn Ion models with bad ignition switches.

It has not yet announced dates to begin fixing vehicles under the other three recent recalls. Those include a faulty brake-booster pump fitting on nearly 64,000 2013 and 2014 Cadillac XTS models; a malfunctioning side-airbag and seat-belt pretensioner in more than one million Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave and Saturn Outlook models; and a dash panel in Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans that fails to meet safety requirements.

Even if the price is right, are shoppers foolish to consider a model from an automaker with so many problems? Maybe not. After all, GM is aware of these problems and intends to remedy each affected vehicle. Other issues could arise later, but that’s true for any car. And just as Toyota sharpened its quality controls and its willingness to act quickly in the wake of a recall debacle, GM is likely to act cautiously and transparently as it rebuilds its reputation.

What it means to you: The GM recall over faulty ignition switches and other safety issues is not necessarily bad news for new- or used-car shoppers. In fact, the recall may present a valuable opportunity.

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