Auto blogThu, 06 Nov 2014
Well, guys, it looks like Saturn is finally dead in the United States once and for all. According to Automotive News, Chevrolet has discontinued production of its fleet-only Captiva Sport - a rebadged Saturn Vue - after three years on the market. The very last US-spec Captiva Sport was built in Mexico in August. GM will still produce the vehicle for sale in the Mexican market, as well as for export.
GM initially offered the Captiva Sport for rental fleets as a way to free up capacity for the sightly larger Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers, which, according to AN, had been in short supply. The Captiva Sport also did a nice job protecting the resale values of its other similar-sized CUVs because they didn't have to play in the fleet market. But with Chevrolet preparing to launch its subcompact Trax CUV in the US, the automaker will soon have a clear, three-tier crossover lineup without the Captiva Sport. The Trax fills out the bottom end, followed by the Equinox and the seven-passenger Traverse.
For now, renters seeking a taste of 'Classic GM' will have to whet their appetites with the fullsize Impala Limited.
Despite the tens of millions of recalled vehicles this year, it's somewhat rare that we get a glimpse into what goes into deciding when to conduct one of these safety campaigns. New documents published by General Motors and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are giving us an interesting opportunity to see how the sausage is made and show the number of meetings it takes to declare a recall.
In early August, GM added about another 269,000 vehicles to its 2014 recall tally in the US when it announced a slew of new safety campaigns. Among them was a fix for the 2002-2004 Saturn Vue that covered 202,155 of them in the US. The problem was that the key could be removed from the ignition even when it wasn't in the "OFF" position, and that had caused two crashes and one injury, according to the automaker.
Where we start to see behind the veil is in the defect notice freshly released by NHTSA. It shows that GM began investigating more widely for ignition switches in April, shortly after the company expanded its ignition switch recall to a variety of Saturn products, among others, according to Automotive News. The automaker found 152 reports in the 2002-2004 Vue of vehicles rolling away or the key being removed out of a total population of 215,243 units worldwide.
General Motors has another spate of recalls to announce. This time they cover 312,280 vehicles worldwide, including 269,041 of in the US, in a total of six campaigns. In 2014, the automaker has recalled 29,079,765 vehicles worldwide, with 25,754,356 of those in the US.
The largest among them covers 215,243 units of the Saturn Vue from 2002-2004 model years worldwide, 202,115 in the US. It's possible for the for the key to be removed even when the ignition isn't in the OFF position. The company knows of two crashes and one injury caused by this problem. Dealers are checking the parts and replacing the ignition cylinder and key set, if necessary.
Next is 72,826 models worldwide (48,059 vehicles in the US) of the 2013 Cadillac ATS four-door sedan, 2013 Buick Encore and 2013 Chevy Trax in Canada. It's possible that the for lap belt pretensioner to retract but not to lock, which could increase occupant movement during a crash. Both front, outboard lap belt pretensioners are being replaced, and a stop-sale is in effect on unsold models until the problem is repaired. There are no known crashes or injuries, though.
General Motors has announced another set of recalls, covering some 2.42 million cars in the United States. For those keeping track, The General has now recalled over 15 million cars worldwide this year due to various issues.
Here's the breakdown for this most recent set of recalls:
1,339,355 - Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia models from the 2009 to 2014 model years; Saturn Outlook models from the 2009 to 2010 model years
The recalls keep rolling in from General Motors, evidently keen to avoid repeating the mistakes of the ignition-switch debacle and clean house. This time they're all coming at once, with five separate recalls announced together covering approximately 2.7 million vehicles.
The largest of the five actions involves over 2.4 million units of the previous-generation Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura in order to fix brake light wiring harness, which have been found to be susceptible to corrosion. The recall is separate from the 56k Aura sedans which GM recently recalled over faulty shift cables, not to mention the previous massive recall of 1.3 million vehicles - some of them the same models - but appears to have resulted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation that started with the G6 almost a year ago.
The second-largest campaign involves the 2014 Chevy Malibu, specifically those fitted with GM's 2.5-liter engine and stop/start system, approximately 140,000 examples of which has been found to have problematic brakes. The issue does not appear to be connected to the recall of 8k Malibu and Buick LaCrosse sedans (also involving brake woes) which we reported upon last week. Four crashes have been reported in such models, but GM admits it's not yet clear if the problem was a contributing factor in the accidents.
General Motors may have made a few mistakes when it came to the whole ignition-switch debacle, and it will likely be dealing with the consequences for some time to come. But you have to hand it to Mary Barra and her team, because they're determined to clean house and avoid the same mistakes. That's why the biggest of the Big Three automakers in Detroit has been issuing recalls left, right and Renaissance Center. Aside from those vehicles fitted with the faulty ignition switches, GM has recalled over 50,000 Cadillac SRXs, another 50 heavy-duty pickups and some 51,000 full-size crossovers. There are bound to be more to come, and now it's issued another 50k-unit recall over faulty shift cables in the transmission.
The recall affects 2007 and 2008 Saturn Auras fitted with the four-speed automatic transmission manufactured between April 24, 2006, and October 31, 2007. The recall doesn't affect models equipped with the six-speed automatic, or for that matter any of the Aura's Epsilon platform-mates like the Chevy Malibu, Pontiac G6, Opel Signum and Vectra, Saab 9-3 or - carrying over from Fiat's aborted partnership with GM - the Fiat Croma, although many of those models used the same 4T40 transmission employed in the Aura.
In the affected vehicles, the shift cable might fracture while in motion, preventing the transmission from shifting into Park or the ignition from switching off, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures could lead to the car rolling away. Hence the recall of 56,214 units in the United States, owners of which can expect to hear from their dealership in due course to have the necessary components replaced.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed its investigation into faulty electric power steering motors affecting 334,728 Saturn Ions from 2004-2007, because General Motors has issued a recall for them. The group's research found that the part failed at a high rate in the vehicles.
GM recalled over 1.3 million vehicles a few weeks ago, including the Ion, because the power steering could suddenly fail. If broken, the cars could still turn, but it took greater effort. The automaker is also covering 96,324 2003 Ions with a lifetime warranty for their motors, but it's not immediately replacing them.
NHTSA opened its investigation into the motors in September 2011, and it found 4,787 complaints and 30,560 warranty claims that showed failure for the Ion alone. It estimated a complaint rate of 14.3 incidents per 1,000 vehicles and warranty claim rate of 9.1 percent. The investigation also found evidence of 12 crashes caused by loss of steering, two of which resulted in injuries.
When it rains, it pours. General Motors has announced yet another major recall, covering 1.3 million units in the American market over concerns that the power steering could suddenly fail. As reported by The Detroit News' David Shepardson, GM has now recalled nearly ten times as many cars as it did all of last year.
It's important to note that should this problem arise in these cars, the steering won't fail completely, however, power steering could suddenly stop functioning. Manual steering would still be possible, but as GM says, there's an increased risk of accidents, particularly at lower speeds.
Like the ignition switch recall, this latest problem covers a wide range of vehicles from Chevrolet, Saturn and Pontiac. Normally, we'd give you the full rundown in paragraph form, but the variety of models and model years means a list is just easier. So, have a look, directly from GM's press release:
General Motors may be staring down another recall campaign for one of its models already embroiled in its high-profile ignition recall. The 2003-2007 Saturn Ion is already among the 1.6-million vehicles being recalled for faulty ignition switches, and now new light is being shed on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation over 2004-2007 models centering on a loss of power steering.
The government safety regulator has received 846 complaints about the problem and claims that GM has had 3,489 reports of failure. Of those cases, there have been 16 accidents and 2 injuries reported, according to Automotive News. While NHTSA has been conducting an investigation since September 2011, no recall has been issued yet.
The inquiry's length was brought to light by an organization called the National Legal and Policy Center that alleges GM and NHTSA have known about the problem but are delaying a recall. It has sent a letter to CEO Mary Barra asking "to recall Saturn Ions for the model years 2004 through 2007 without further delay." The letter in question is available in full on the group's website.
588,000 Saturn Sky, Saturn Ion, Pontiac Solstice and Chevy HHR models join the 778,000 cars already being recalled.
General Motors has announced a massive expansion of a 778,000-unit recall we told you about two weeks ago, doubling not only the total number of cars affected but expanding the recall beyond Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models previously mentioned. The recall originally centered around ignition switches that could slip out of the "run" position if jostled or if any weight was applied to the key in the cylinder.