Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My GM Vehicle Experience

I love GM, or at least I want to love GM. My Dad started working there when he was 17, in 1947, running a machine on a subassembly line. He retired as a middle manager in 1989 with a salary in the low six figures. I worked there for five years while going to college from 1968 to 1973. My brother worked summers there from 1983 to 1987. Every new car I had ever bought (seven in total) had been a Chevy. Bona fides established, I will now state that I will never buy another GM product.

Here is a list of GM products that I bought brand new, followed by a list of the difficulties I had with each:

1969 Camaro – Owned it for two years before being sold after an accident.  Generally a pretty good car, but the throttle linkage was misadjusted so that the carburetor would never get to the “full-power” setting and the water pump failed at a pretty low mileage (although I've always suspected that it was damaged in the accident).  

1971 Vega – OK for me, but wanted a bigger car so I sold it to a friend after about two years. Lots of problems for him, including both front fenders rusting completely out in a few years after he bought it.

1973 Camaro – 350 V8 dropped a valve twice, battery failed first year, needed new clutch with very few miles, seatbelt broke and brakes went out suddenly.

1975 Chevy Pickup – intermittent electrical problem unable to fix, running lights would flicker, sometimes going out for long continuous periods.

1978 Chevy Pickup – intermittent electrical problem unable to fix, dash light fuse would trip losing all instrument and interior lights, heater core began to leak into cab.

1981 Chevette – worst vehicle I ever owned – front wheel fell off driving on mountain road the first week (while at dealer to repair this, someone stole the radio which dealer refused to take responsibility for). Weak A/C, overheating problem, incredibly rough running, often jerking down the road in a very embarrassing manner -- spent hundreds of dollars trying to fix this to no avail.

After this Chevette experience, for many years I drove used cars, mostly Toyotas, with few problems.  I did own one other GM vehicle -  1967 Chevy 4WD PU with 327, bought used in 1986.  This was a great vehicle and I wish I still had it.

Then, memory clouded by the passage of time and still feeling loyalty to GM (and having fond memories of the ’67 PU) I bought GM again: 1997 Chevy S-10 pickup – second worst vehicle I ever owned. When brand new the tailgate was missing several bolts and the A/C didn’t work as it was not properly wired. I still own this vehicle, 130,000 miles, it has needed two new transmissions, each about $1,600 (both times it failed when I was far from home or any facilities – each tow was more than $200).  It has never passed California smog without a tune up at about $500 a pop and once needed a new catalytic converter at $1,300. Check Engine light is almost always on. Often runs very rough, especially in wet weather. Heater-A/C fan doesn’t work properly, A/C has been repaired twice for $1,200 each time and is currently not working. Rear view mirror fell off, third-door latch has failed twice and is currently broken, windshield wipers have failed, windshield washer fluid reservoir failed.

My last, and most recent, gripe against GM is the 2009 Obama bailout which protected the unions (source of GM's problems in my opinion) and screwed the salaried employees and stockholders.

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