When General Motors last week unveiled a new way for dealers to order parts needed for the 2.6 million-vehicle ignition-system recall, it reminded dealers of a hard truth: They'll be waiting for parts -- and placating impatient customers -- at least well into the autumn.
The new ordering system is designed to give replacement ignition switches, cylinder locks and keys a high priority in GM's parts-ordering system. But dealers don't know how many parts they'll receive, or how soon.
"It's going to take a couple of weeks until we see how these things turn around and what the lag time will be between the time we put in the order and they deliver the parts," said Jim Stutzman, owner of Jim Stutzman Chevrolet-Cadillac in Winchester, Va.
"I foresee that it could be well into the fall before we get through these recalls, based on the number of recalls and the availability of parts," he said.
GM said it began shipping repair kits on April 11 that contain an ignition switch, an ignition lock cylinder, two keys and two key rings. Dealers are to replace the lock cylinder and switch and cut and code the key during a single service visit.
Under the new ordering system, dealers must send GM the vehicle identification number of each recalled car that is ready to be repaired. GM will then expedite the shipping of required parts -- when they're available -- for that car.
GM "wants no margin for error on who's been done and if the repair is complete. Their intentions are good, but again the $64,000 question is, 'When do the damn parts get here?'" said Jim Paul, co-owner of Valley Automotive Group in Apple Valley, Minn.
Paul is paralyzed in planning for service hours and staffing. "How do I schedule [extra hours] today if I don't know where the parts are?"
GM CEO Mary Barra said last month that the process of repairing the recalled vehicles would last until October. But that was before GM added faulty lock cylinders to the recall on April 10.
GM spokesman Jim Cain said he didn't know whether that additional work would extend repairs past October. "We're working to ensure that we stay as close to that as we can," he said. He could not immediately say what company is supplying the lock cylinder and keys.