GM will update dealers Wednesday on recall parts status

DETROIT -- General Motors told dealers that it will hold a Web conference on Wednesday to update them on the status of parts needed to repair millions of small cars recalled for faulty ignition switches, as well as the procedures to follow for the recall.

This month, GM told dealers it would start delivering the parts on April 7, dealers said. That date was pushed back and GM said it started delivering the parts on Friday. But many dealers still have not received parts.

“I haven’t gotten any yet and I don’t know when I’m going to get them,” said Scott Baum, owner of Baum Chevrolet-Buick in Clinton, Ill.

GM’s notice to dealers read, “We are receiving multiple inquiries on parts availability, repair procedures, lock cylinders and ordering system delays,” according to one dealer who declined to be named.

The online conference will seek to answer those questions, according to the notice that was first sent to dealers on Friday and then again earlier today.

‘Updating our dealers’

A GM spokeswoman confirmed the Web conference for dealers on Wednesday.

“We are updating our dealers on the status of the ignition switch recall and how to provide the best customer experience as we take care of owners who have been affected by this recall. This is a private communication between GM and our dealer network,” Ryndee Carney wrote in an e-mail to Automotive News.

A GM spokesman said the company is not providing figures on repairs completed or updates on repair parts shipped.

“Parts are being delivered to dealers and vehicles are being repaired,” Jim Cain wrote in an e-mail. “As we have said before, GM is fully committed to getting replacement parts to dealers as quickly as possible.”

NHTSA bulletins

The faulty ignition switch has been linked to 13 deaths. In addition to replacing the ignition switches on 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and other small cars from the 2003-11 model years, dealerships also will be instructed to replace ignition lock cylinders.

GM sent bulletins to dealerships on Friday detailing how to perform the switch repairs. The bulletins say dealers should replace the switch and the lock cylinder during the same customer visit.

Both parts, along with two new keys and key rings, are included in repair kits GM is shipping to dealers. There are two versions of the kits: One with Chevrolet-branded keys for Cobalts and HHRs, and another with unbranded keys for Saturns and Pontiacs, two discontinued GM brands.

The bulletins, which were posted online today by federal safety regulators, say dealers will be reimbursed for 0.4 hours of labor on the Chevrolets and Pontiac G5, 0.6 hours for the Saturn Ion and 0.7 hours for the Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice.

Lawmaker demands

Earlier today, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra demanding GM tell dealers to park any unrepaired vehicles, saying they pose a danger. He also wants GM to account for “how many dealerships have received replacement parts necessary for these repairs, and how soon the remaining parts will be delivered.”

In a media release, Blumenthal’s office said the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association did an informal survey of 34 GM dealers in the state. Eleven of 14 dealers that responded were still having difficulty getting replacement parts, it said.

Dealer Mark Scarpelli of the Raymond Auto Group in Antioch, Ill., said his two Chevrolet stores have received about 40 parts since Friday. He has 15 cars at the stores whose owners exchanged for loaner vehicles until recall repairs are made. About 38 other customers are driving their cars, but are on a list for repairs, Scarpelli said.

Checking VINs

“GM tells us we’ll be receiving more every day as the VIN numbers match up,” Scarpelli said.

GM requires dealers to send it the vehicle identification number each time a customer reports receiving a recall notice for a repair. GM will send parts only for each VIN number reported to it, and won’t supply extra parts, dealers said.

A federal judge in Texas is expected to decide within days whether to make GM tell customers to immediately park all 2.2 million recalled cars in the United States covered by the ignition recalls. GM said in court filings that extensive testing it has conducted on the affected vehicles show that the vehicles are safe to drive, so long as customers remove anything attached to the ignition key. But the plaintiffs asking for the “park it now” order cite examples of stalling and crashes as evidence for their argument that the cars should not be driven until repairs are completed.

Nick Bunkley contributed to this report.

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