Chevy Recall. PLEASE HELP!

I have a 1999 Chevy Tracker. There was a recall on the “brake lamp actuating switch” several years back.
I had mine fixed in March 2001.
Now my actuating switch is “burnt out” again…only 2 years after it was supposedly fixed.
My break lights don’t work, and I have to push my break 100-200 times to get my car out of park.
I called Chevy last week and the woman I spoke with said that if I took my car to the dealership and it was determined that the “break light actuating switch” was the problem, then Chevy would call the dealership and have them fix it for free.
I dropped my car off, and it has been determined that the actuating switch needs to be replaced. I called Chevy, and now they are saying that they will not do it for free! Needless to say I am extremely pissed off. If I would have known there was no chance to have it fixed for free I would have taken it to my regular mechanic and my car would be fixed, and inspected, and I would be driving it home today.
Now my car is not fixed, I still don’t know if they are going to pay for it, and it definitely will not be inspected when I get it back.
The woman is supposed to be calling me back later today. Does anyone have any advice for how I can get this fixed for free? Or am I screwed?

Get the number from the dealership of the zone representative. He’s the rep for GM for your area. He will be able to authorize a free repair, especially since you were promised one over the phone.

Just asking for the number might get the dealership to change its tune.

Former Chevrolet (Zone) Service Rep here. Here’s the unsugared truth.

Your tracker is outside warranty (36 month/36k) and parts warranty 12 month/12k). Chevrolet is not legally responsible for a penny. However, in an effort to keep customers happy (i.e. buying more GMs), Chevy often does cover repairs if one or all of the following apply:

Previous history
Low miles (under 75,000)
Low age (less than 5 years)
Original owner
Currently/previously own other GM products

You probably won’t get coverage if:

Different part broke altogether (no previous history)
Over 100,000 miles
Vehicle looks abused
Not original owner
Bitching that you’ll never own another Chevy

Usually what happens is that a dealer inspects the vehicle and determines problem and possible cause. Then the dealer service manager makes a decision regarding repair assistance. They will NOT make any decision without inspection.

If the repair is extremely costly and they deem assistance is necessary, they may consult with Chevrolet first for approval. In my experience, service managers are extremely lenient. They want to keep you as a customer and they’ve got nothing to lose. They’ll either get paid by you or by Chevy.

My advice is to talk to the service manager. If you’re not happy with their decision, get an opinion from another Chevy dealer, or shut up and pay for the repairs.

Out of curiosity, I called a different Chevy service center, and spoke to a gentleman who said that the part should never typically need to be replaced. I have had mine replaced once already, and it needs it to be replaced again. Doesn’t that seem strange to you?

Also, being that it is a recalled part, and apparently needs to be changed every 2 years, it seems like a Chevy dealership service center would have them in stock, but they didn’t. They had to order it. To me that means that they must not need to replace them very often.

I am mostly upset because I originally called the service center and they informed me that I had already had the recall repaired. I was about to take my car to my regular mechanic, but I decided to call the 1-800 Chevy number first just because it didn’t seem right to have to replace this part only 2 years after having it replaced.
That is when the woman informed me that the repair would be done for free if, and only if, it was the recalled part that needed to be replaced.
Now they are saying that they will not cover it. If I had known that there was no chance they would cover it, I would have never taken my car to the dealership in the first place ( I have been ripped off there before). If I didn’t take my car to the dealership I would have my car back today, and I would have had it inspected while at my usual mechanic. Now, not only do I not have my car today, but I have to take my car BACK in to have it inspected (by someone that I trust).

By any chance do you know how long a Brake Lamp Actuating Switch should last?

90% of the parts on your vehicle should last the life of the vehicle, including the brake lamp actuating switch. This excludes wear items like tires, brakes, shocks, struts, mufflers, etc. Generally, the industry standard for average vehicle life is around 10 years and 100,000 miles. After that, parts are going to break for no other reason than age/wear/fatigue. I’ve never seen a part on any car (GM or otherwise) that would last forever with a 0% failure rate. A dealer, or any competent mechanic, can repair the vehicle but once the vehicle is out of warranty, that cost is generally the responsibility of the owner.

But I can see your point of view. You never said how many miles you had on your truck, or how many you put on between repairs, but I can see how you feel a repaired component should last more than two years. I’m not familar with this recall (I left GM in 94), but I’d guess they even replaced it with an improved component.

That being the case, if I was a service manager I’d probably look for some sort of assistance if it was a) the same part, b) you were a loyal customer, and c) the truck was maintained and had a reasonable amount of miles. Did you talk to him/her?

Based on your comments, though, I’m not sure how loyal you are. You said above you’d never have taken your truck to the dealer in the first place because you don’t trust them. The only reason you took it there was the off chance you could get free repairs. That’s not going to motivate me, as the service manager, to help you out.

I also work for a car company (not GM) and what hockeynut said is 100% right on and correct.
Based on your statements in this thread


I would say that you are probably not a good canidate for good will consideration.

Oh and just a comment on parts in general, and your brake light swich in particular.
The very first book I ever read about auto repair had a line in it that went

This means that any part on the car can break, and if you look at a large enough number of cars all of the parts will break.
If you were to look at the life span of 100,000 of the same part, some are going to be bad out of the box, some will last 6 months, some a year, some 2 years, some 5 years and so on so on.

I would guess that a brake light switch should last at or near the life of the car. Your’s did not make it that long. Why? I do not know, maybe karma (yours or the switch’s), maybe Bubba had a bad day building it. Maybe the voltage going to your switch is a little on the high side and the switch arced out.

If you really want to get some good will coverage from GM I suggest that you be very, very nice to the zone rep when you speak with them, and don’t pop a tude otherwise you will be paying for that sucker all by yourself.

Thanks for the advice!
I have been very kind and patient with everyone that I have spoken to thus far. I need something to happen soon though…they have had my car for 5 days!
I am not out to gouge Chevy, or get something that don’t deserve. I am just trying to get what I was promised when I called last Thursday.
Thanks again!