Paramus Auto Mall & General Motors Complaint - Dangerous Mechanical Issues With Auto After Dealership Did Major Repairs

Review by murostella on 2012-01-20
PARAMUS, NEW JERSEY -- January 3, 2012

RE: GM Service Request # 71-998 63140

I am writing to inform you of the difficulties that have been on going with our 2009 Chevrolet Malibu LT. We have been patiently working with the service department at Paramus Chevrolet Auto Mall in Paramus, NJ, as well as two different service representatives, Dusty and Sherman from GM.

Our trouble began several days prior to 9/9/11. I contacted the service manager about trouble we were having with the car. He suggested that we make an appointment, but that the trouble might be the battery so on 9/7/11 we replaced the battery while we waited for the appointment. Then on 9/9/11, while driving my daughter to school, the car began ‘miss firing” the speedometer, rpm and gas gauges were literally moving up and down rapidly and within 2 minutes I was no longer able to drive the car over 20mph without it making a multitude of noises and jumping. I immediately drove the car to the dealership for diagnosis and service. My husband met me there and a car was rented for us by the dealership. On 9/26/11 we picked up the car, the transmission had been replaced and we, on the recommendation of the service representative, paid $730.02 for the brake pads replacement, brake fluid flushing and air filter replacement. The evening we brought the car home while backing out of a driveway into traffic the car stalled and would not start. After 4 attempts the car started and fortunately traffic stopped and no one was harmed. A call to the service the following day assured us that it was most likely the car’s computer resetting to the new transmission.

We continued driving the car, and within 2 weeks we had to take the car back in (10/13/11) because twice in that time frame, the car had failed to start. Additionally the gauges were again moving up and down randomly and the car felt like the transmission would miss gear shifting or “slam” into gear roughly and on one occasion I was unable to open the driver’s door while inside the car. I was told by a member of the service department that a few “batches” of the 2009 Malibu had transmission issues. This time they found a wiring issue, the car was returned and a few days later we returned the car for the same issue of not starting and erratic gear shifting. This time the electrical box was duct taped better…???

Since 10/26/11 we have had multiple times throughout November and December when the car wouldn’t start and multiple times when I was not able to get out of the driver’s door. Neither the lock on the keyless entry nor the physical lock inside the car would open the door. Starting the car and putting in gear did nothing and I’ve had to crawl out of the window or call a family member to get me out of the car. I can’t begin to relate the amount of anxiety I felt when I pulled on the drivers handle and couldn’t open the door. In early December I reported one of the door locking incidents to Onstar for help but unfortunately they couldn’t unlock the car for me. I have video footage of one of theses incidents on my IPad as we were told by GM representative, Dusty, that we needed “proof” as GM couldn’t help us because the service people couldn’t replicate the faulty lock when we brought it in on 10/26/11.

On 1/3/12 again the car would start and after a 6-hour waiting period to see if it would start again, we paid $90.00 to have the car towed back to Paramus Auto Mall where it currently remains.

As you would expect we are extremely troubled by our situation. I am a therapist in private practice, have three children and remain completely dependent on my car to earn income, to provide services for my patients and manage the needs of my family. Though we have made well over 10 trips to and from the dealership, accumulated unexpected excessive mileage on our leased car, incurred expenses and hardship managing a business and a family without the car, by far our most pressing concern is that we have lost complete faith in the car. It is unsafe and completely unreliable. I can’t imagine that anyone in management at GM would willingly put another family member in a car that,

1) might not start at the outset or return from a trip

2) if there was a fire or an accident the driver would not be able to get out of the car to help the children, other family members or themselves. We also have a student driver in the family, which has made us even more reluctant to drive the car. In our conversations with GM representative Dusty, we have repeatedly emphasized our fear of continuing to drive this vehicle. He has given us GM policy, empathized about our situation and continued to direct us to working with the dealership service department until recently when our case was given to Sherman. Our first conversation with Sherman was absurd. He again repeated GM policy and began advising us on the mechanical workings of the car as if he were a qualified engineer or service technician. Upon seeking his qualifications to give technical advice, he informed us that he was not a certified GM technician and as the conversation continued it was evident that he was not informed at all about our on going complaint. It was as if we had never had a conversation with GM before. Is it customary for your public relations representatives to just pass cases around hoping customers will tire of the process? We are taking our concerns about the safety and reliability of the car very seriously, as we had hoped your company would.

The primary concern from your end seems not to be our safety but that we have 76,000 miles on the car. While this is correct, it is important to note that in August, 2011 we traded in our 1998 Chevy Suburban with 299,000 miles and leased a 2011 Equinox from Paramus Auto Mall. The Suburban had the original engine and drive train, so we are hoping your Sherman is not saying that the Malibu is not built to drive beyond 76,000 without trouble. We are long time GM customers. We also want to note that we purchased the car from GM in part because your company was at risk of bankruptcy and was being bailed out by the government. We made a conscious decision to support GM but are now ready to purchase another brand of automobile that is designed to work trouble free beyond 76,000 miles if you continue ignoring our complaint. We live and work in the NY Metro area; the most congested and busy place in the country, and cannot compromise our safety during rush hour or at anytime. Sherman’s lack of concern for our safety and attempt to brush off our complaint because of the amount of mileage on the car is not an acceptable resolution. It is our expectation that you will remedy this by taking the car back and put us a in a new one immediately or refund the purchase price of the car and we will go elsewhere. We are not willing to wait for a more serious incident to occur. We are certain you understand how devastating this would be to our family and how costly this would be for your company if the mechanical and electrical problems we have experienced cause an accident and injury or death to me or a member of my family. We have worked patiently and obediently with the GM representative and the service department on issues that didn’t existed prior to the transmission malfunctioning. We take absolutely no responsibility for the ongoing issues we are having with the car. This car is not safe to drive and we await a timely response to our letter.

Follow up as of 01/20/2012..................
Received voice mail from Service and sales manager that stated that Malibu would not start and car had a damp, musty smell. They have had my car for an additional 2 weeks with no resolution and manager of sales stated that General Motors will do nothing about my complaint and his dealership takes no responsibility for dangerous mechanical problems.
Comments:4 Replies - Latest reply on 2012-11-05
Posted by Johanna on 2012-01-20:
Your car is almost 3 years old. Odds are that it's out of warranty. Therefore, GM is probably under no legal obligation to help. Your best bet at this point is to get rid of the car and get a different one.
Posted by T on 2012-01-21:
"It is our expectation that you will remedy this by taking the car back and put us a in a new one immediately or refund the purchase price of the car and we will go elsewhere."

I'm not sure this is realistic. Is this car under any kind of warranty? Is the transmission being worked on under drivetrain coverage?

When did you buy the car? If you put 76,000 miles on it yourself, there is no way they are going to replace the car or give you the purchase price.

I agree with the first poster based on your complaint - I'd get rid of the car.
Posted by abuchheit581 on 2012-01-27:
Here's your problem in a nutshell. Your transmission was not the root of your problem. Your transmission was the victim of another problem with your vehicle. Basically you ruined your transmission by driving the car with the wrong computer signals putting undue strain on the components. Too many times dealerships do not have qualified people to properly diagnose vehicles. They are part changers. It is evident that your transmission was not functioning properly so they exchanged it but did not solve the real problem. Your problem is probably based in computer error. The computer was probably damaged by water leaking onto computer components. You probably have a failed part (rubber gasket, blocked drain, etc.)allowing water to come into contact with the cars computer or its components causing erratic behavior such as improper computer commands to your transmission, door locks, ignition system etc. The musty smell is the smoking gun. Hope this helps.
Posted by Lynn on 2012-11-05:
You should contact a Lemon Law Attorney I had a similar situation and they helped me with the dealer and GM. Same place different model. There is a Magnus act that allows them to file with the courts protecting people out of warranty etc.

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