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Auto blogFri, 05 Apr 2013
The days of changing your engine oil every 3,000 miles are long gone thanks to most cars having automatic oil monitoring systems, but about 800,000 General Motors vehicles apparently have incorrect monitoring software that is leading to premature engine component wear. According to Autoweek, certain 2010-2012 Buick LaCrosse, Regal, Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain models equipped with 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines could be going too long in between oil changes resulting in a higher-than-normal number of warranty claims for the engine's balance chain. The balance chain links the balance shaft to the crankshaft, and a worn one can produce higher noise levels.
As a fix, GM dealers will be reprogramming the software for the monitors in an effort to reduce the interval between oil changes, which varies based on driving habits and conditions. Through February 2015, the software update will be done at no cost to vehicle owners, but since this is not a recall, after that point, it will be up to the discretion of dealers as to whether or not they will charge for the service. What isn't immediately clear is whether GM plans on giving assistance to out-of-warranty customers who are experiencing engine issues from the worn chain.
According to a letter from General Motors to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, flaws in the build process of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu have led to the recall of 8,519 cars. Units built between December 6, 2011 and January 15, 2013 may have been assembled with rear suspension cradles that had insufficient torque applied to certain bolts. That out-of-spec assembly could lead to issues ranging from slight noises to a loss of vehicle control.
The problem was first noticed in December of last year by a GM test fleet driver and eventually tracked back to the improperly torqued bolts on the suspension cradle assembled through July 2012 by a supplier located not too far from the Malibu's Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly Plant. Since an official NHTSA recall notice has not been issued yet, it isn't clear whether or not Detroit-built Malibus were the only ones affected (the 2013 Malibu is also built at GM's Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas). Dealers will fix the problem by inspecting vehicles for proper torque specs, retightening if not within specs and, in some cases, perform a rear-wheel alignment.
Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. That's a lesson that is currently being taught to General Motors, because despite a strong showing from its 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, the General's pickup sales still can't best those of cross-town rival Ford.
With 59,163 trucks moved, GM fell just over 1,000 units short of toppling Ford, and one of the main reasons for that, according to GM's chief sales analyst, was due to a lack of variety in the engines and body styles available on dealer lots. "We are still over-weighted toward crew-cab V8 trucks. Our light-duty mix will moderate over time as our launch progresses," said Kurt McNeil.
Loading dealers with the popular combination of the 5.3-liter V8 and the four-door, Crew Cab body style was intentional during the truck's launch, but as supplies of leftover 2013 models, which are being sold at heavy incentives, are beginning to wane, both budget-conscious and high-dollar buyers are looking elsewhere instead of at the volume model pickups.