GM Looks For Creative Ways To Cajole Owners To Repair Defective Ignition Switches

Consumers don’t appear to be flocking to their local General Motors dealer to fix vehicles that may have a deadly ignition switch defect. With fewer than half of the two million cars involved in the recall fixed, officials with the car manufacturer are trying to reach affected owners anyway they can – including going to their homes.

The Associated Press reports that since repairs on the recalled vehicles began in April, only 1.16 million of the 2.36 million cars with the defect have been fixed.

In an effort to coax more owners into getting their vehicles fixed General Motors has turned to social media and other not-so-blunt means of getting consumers’ attention.

The company recently sent out Facebook messages and made phone calls to owners of mainly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions.

Additionally, GM CEO Mary Barra sent a personal letter urging people to get the switches replaced.

In some cases, Barra tells the AP, officials with the company have gone to consumers’ homes and replaced their vehicle with a loaner while issuing the repairs.

Officials say the failure to speedily fix the vehicles is a combination of consumers not understanding the seriousness of the recall and an early lack of parts.

At first the sluggish pace to fix the vehicles was the result of having no available parts. Because most of the recalled cars are no longer being produced, there were few options when it came to replacing the switches.

Delphi Automotive, a parts supplier, had to bring machinery out of mothballs to start production replacement switches, the AP reports.

Now that new parts are available, the issue rests mostly on consumers’ lack of knowledge about the severity of the issue.

According to federal safety regulators it’s not unusual for consumers to ignore recall notices. In fact, the average completion rate one and a half years after a recall is announced is just 75%.

While that completion rate might be okay for less serious recalls, ignoring the GM ignition switch defect recall could lead to more fatalities.

The lawyer in charge of the GM Victim Compensation Plan announced recently that 24 deaths had been tied to the ignition switch issue.

The AP reports that at least one of those deaths occurred after the recall had been announced.

In that case a 24-year-old Virginia law student died in March when her 2006 Saturn Ion rear-ended a semi and caught fire. At the time of the woman’s death, GM had begun issuing warning letters, but parts weren’t yet available.

A spokesperson for GM tell the AP that about one-third of the vehicles that haven’t had repairs belong to people with children, while one-fifth are young people with out children.

GM uses Facebook, phone calls to get recalled cars fixed [The Associated Press]