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The upside of auto recalls

Auto dealers take advantage of recall campaigns
Auto dealers take advantage of recall campaigns
Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Auto defect recalls do have a positive side. New car dealers are silently welcoming the recalls into their facility. While they worry about the possible erosion of the brand image, they relish the increased service department business and showroom traffic.

Dealers not only get paid by the manufacturer for the repairs that are performed but now have the opportunity to sell additional parts and labor. Car owners, many that have never been back to the dealership since they purchased their vehicle, will be advised that “since we already have your car on the rack, it would be a good time to replace those worn brake pads and install a new cabin filter. Suggestions of exhaust, shocks, belts and hose replacement are also fair game.

The recall on 2.6 million defective ignition switches on specified GM vehicles works like this: the owner of the vehicle deemed to possibly have the defective switch will get a letter from GM instructing the owner to take everything off of your key ring and drive using ONLY (GM’s caps) the ignition key. Then, call their dealer and speak to the service department. The service manager or writer will request your vehicle identification number (VIN) and tell you that he or she will call you to schedule an appointment once the replacement switch parts have been received.

Dealers report that it takes three to five weeks to get the replacement parts after the VIN is verified. Instillation time is about 70 minutes but many technicians will have enough practice to do it much quicker but still get paid by GM for the flat-rate time.

Most dealers will never see a recalled vehicle enter their service bays, as many affected owners either never receive the recall notice or receive the document, but end up trashing it or forgetting about the recall. Further, some owners may not have the inclination to go through with repairs, whether due to time, other priorities or apathy.

This could be the end of the ignition switch as we know it. GM is considering dropping the ignition key for push-button start throughout the automaker’s entire range, a technology found in 72 percent of all 2014 vehicles sold in the United States. Potential issues surround the push-button start, however, including length of time between action and reaction, as well as drivers remembering to shut the engine down prior to departing the vehicle. You can bet that GM is working overtime to resolve those issues.

Finally, do new car TV and print ads need a lengthy list of warnings like the drug ads?