Another day, another recall from a major OEM. But this one wasn’t your new car’s airbag blowing up in your face. Or your new car accelerating without your foot on the gas. No, this wasn’t a new car at all. The recall I’m talking about is the recently announced third recall for GM cars stating that the cars can leak oil and ultimately start on fire. The kicker to this – the cars can date all the way back to 1997.
Have vehicle recalls gone too far?
Now I’m all for car companies isolating an oversight in production and making it right for the people that shelled out their hard-earned money on a new car. But if my ‘97 Grand Am is leaking oil, I’m probably not going to be too upset. And I also am smart enough to know that leaking oil around hot engine parts could potentially start a fire. I don’t expect the company to continue to recall the vehicle and get it fixed for me. This raises the question: Are vehicle recalls going too far?
The specific issue with this recall, which affects 1.4 million GM cars, centers around the valve cover gasket. The gasket can degrade over time (duh) and when that happens, the subsequent leaking oil could make contact with the hot exhaust manifold – but only under hard braking.
The circumstances that lead to this recall seem all too predictable. Something mechanical has a plastic piece that degrades over time. And in certain remote situations, it could potentially lead to internal fluids hitting an engine part that is hot, because you know, it’s working hard to propel a 3,500-lb. vehicle down the road.
I’ve driven several cars through the years with the dreaded GM 3800 V-6 in them. And they both had the very common issue of mixing the coolant with the oil due to a faulty gasket. So I replaced the gasket – as many have with this engine. I never thought about holding GM responsible. It’s an old car. They need maintenance.
It’s a stand-up move for automakers to do this, but is this really the world we live in now? Mechanical things break. At this rate, I can’t imagine there will ever be a vehicle produced that doesn’t have a recall at some point along the line – especially when we are currently reaching back to the 90s. Like I said, there’s a big difference from a gasket leaking on an old car and an airbag blowing up in your face on a brand new car. Or a big key ring causing the steering wheel to lock…