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General Motors validates incompetence

Dark clouds hang over GM
Dark clouds hang over GM
Getty Images

I'm not too surprised about the recalls going on with General Motors, especially it's Chevrolet division. I had my own "issues" with a Chevrolet Camaro I bought new in 2002. The car was fine until somewhere past 80,000 miles, the engine defect began. It was not unlike what's going on now with the massive recalls which should have occurred about 10 years ago. Over the past decade, hundreds of complaints came into GM about how some of their cars would suddenly stall or actually turn off while being driven. In some cases this event led to accidents , and in some cases death. One or more deaths in particular occurred with a Chevrolet Cobalt. The recall now in effect will include over 1.5 million cars worldwide. The total death count related to this "defect" seems to be around 13 although it's hard to say since Chevrolet hasn't been too revealing in all it really knows. My Camaro would suddenly reduce speed to something like being in less than first gear (I had a 5 speed transmission). There was a "reduce engine speed" or something like that which would light up.I had never seen a warning like that in any car I had before. To make a long story short-I went to three different GM (Chevrolet) dealers, none of which could actually fix this bizarre problem. It seemed to revolve around the throttle bearings, but the problem was never fully resolved. At some point past 100,000 miles, I traded the car in, and luckily for me, that day the car ran fine.I called GM and complained but it never did any good. I spent at least $1,000 on this problem which would have been more, but since the Camaro was my first American car in decades (I always bought Japanese), I wisely bought an extended warranty, and that helped. In the end, my fears about American cars were well founded, and this tragedy and pure example of incompetence is not unexpected to me.

There are six GM models involved in this latest fiasco which involves an ignition switch which can pop out of its own gear-like status thus shutting the automobile down which brings with it, the shutting down of air bags and all power. Driving at a high speed when this happens is what placed some in a dangerous situation. The Cobalt in particular is not a big car, and by just shutting down with no warning, the car was incapable of being controlled. Like my situation with my Camaro, I just hoped this defect wouldn't occur on a highway.Imagine driving on the freeway at high speeds, and all systems just shut down. Chevrolet knew of these problems around 2003 and failed to act. I told GM myself that their operation is heading for doom sometime when I had my problem in 2006. Little did I know then what was coming for GM. This once great titan of a company, now so incompetent over the past few decades when the oil embargoes hit in the 1970's.Instead of realizing the fast coming future- they just sat out the coming foreign car onslaught that showed American drivers there were real alternatives to the gas guzzling behemoths continually and blindly churned out by Chevrolet and others. They did nothing but build boring cars that would simply not be worth much at or around the 100,000 mile mark. I'm not saying there's no Americans out there with a Chevrolet success story, but this latest chapter of shame has been a long time coming. I witnessed it years ago myself. I actually saw the future before the GM bigwigs. It makes you wonder how such highly paid human beings made it that far into corporate America. There are real people to blame at GM for this pathetic mess, and they will never be exposed. These creeps will bail out at the right time holding on for dear life to their precious golden parachute. Meanwhile the victims of GM's reckless ways remain injured, and others mourn the loss of their loved ones, but corporate hacks scared witless, kept their mouths shut- waiting and hoping for their incompetent ways to (hopefully) blow over and not be uncovered for all the public to see.

I was in favor of the bail out for GM because as I saw it, letting that huge company go out of business would have vanquished millions of jobs when you consider GM itself plus all the related suppliers and dealerships which would have folded along with it. In the midst of an historic economic downturn, America could not have afforded to lose more jobs. I still feel it was the right thing to do, but this latest tragedy illustrates a deep defect within GM and in particular, its Chevrolet division. The American government shelled out about $60 billion to Chrysler and GM, and has received most of that back with the exception of about $10 billion. In these cases and in mine, the engine shutdown was the fundamental issue which caused numerous deaths and injuries (some claims have it at 78 deaths & over 1500 injuries). Why on earth, after a century of making cars, would a once well respected automobile maker suddenly forget how to build a reliable car? Especially in light of such intense foreign competition, GM and others lost a huge segment of the car buying public they will never win back. I know Toyota just paid out a record amount because of some (alleged) defects, but I've had several Toyota's and never had a problem. Ditto that for Nissan and Mitsubishi. GM had known of these instances as early as 2003, and is just now giving in to a major recall. GM is like our own government: slow to realize the truth, and almost incapable of reacting to trouble in a reasonable time period. We got bogged down in Vietnam and Iraq, and it took thousands of lives squandered and billions of dollars flushed down the toilet for a grand mistake. Speaking of the government, they've been no help in these matters either.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received complaints which kept coming in over ten years ago (2 a month-but specifically about an engine shutdown) but they decided it wasn't enough to warrant any serious investigation. More lives lost and injuries suffered as a result. Nobody will go to jail over this, even though it appears to anyone with a functioning brain as a pure case of neglect. GM knew something was amiss with these cars and failed to act promptly.

It's too bad for GM that their incompetence would rear it's ugly head just as the company was coming out of a very dreadful time, when its very existence was questionable. I have to wonder now that maybe the selection of its first female CEO, Mary Barra, wasn't just a ploy--to place a female at the top as a scandal was about to surface-again. I know I will never buy a GM car again, and I doubt seriously I will ever buy an American car- again. A friend of mine in a car related business convinced me of the Camaro, and although I loved the look of that car (I do miss the T -Top) I kept thinking, my Japanese automobiles never really gave me any grief. As I mentioned, the car was fine for 80,000 miles and then the engine defect took over. I gave my fellow Americans a second chance and they blew it. Who knows how many others didn't even have the chance to opt out of buying American again because they're dead, as a result of GM's tragic incompetence and tight-lipped response when they knew better.