How concerned should I personally be about the GM recalls?

GM recently recalled millions of its older cars due to some widespread issues with their ignition systems. One of those cars is the vehicle that I drive, although my model year (2009 Cobalt) isn’t included in the recall.

I’m kind of torn. How concerned should I personally be about this?

I love my car, and I’m not getting it rid of it anytime soon. I shouldn’t be too worried because my model year isn’t part of the recall, but still, this is a worrisome issue.

If your car’s model year is not part of the recall, then your car has not been recalled.

ETA: In a recall, the manufacturer doesn’t take your car from you, they repair the problem on their own dime for you.

Essentially, the problem is this: if you’re one of those people that has a huge keyring with 50 pounds of crap dangling from it, then there’s a chance that the weight of the keyring will cause the ignition to switch to “off” while the car is running. If this happens, and the car crashes, the airbag won’t deploy (because the car is turned off).

If your car is not on the recall list, then there’s no problem. If your car is on the recall list, then the dealer will fix the ignition module at no cost.

What exactly is worrisome? Your car isn’t affected by this problem so it’s not clear what is causing your concern.

Um, when a car company makes a “business decision” not to fix a known defect, it’s not unreasonable to worry about what other stuff they may have cavalierly dismissed.

Sadly, you can find that type of story about pretty much every car company on the planet. It was true before this recall was announced.

Yeah, just a couple days ago, Toyota agreed to pay a $1.2 Billion over their unintended acceleration scandal (and their long insistance that it was all just confused old ladies hitting the wrong pedal).

If you have a newer-model car, look down at the driver’s floor mat and notice the little peg that keeps the mat from sliding up under the brake pedal.

We should rightly worry about all our cars then.

While it seems logical to figure that the ignition switch (the part to be replaced by the recall) is part of the ignition system, that is not correct. The ignition system includes parts that produce and deliver the spark that ignites gasoline in the engine; while the ignition switch is peripherally involved it is not normally considered part of the ignition system.

An ignition module, on cars that have one, is part of the ignition system but is not what this recall is about. The recall is for the ignition switch, which is absolutely NOT an ignition module.

Guess you were right to be concerned:

Am I wrong to think you’re a bad (or perhaps seriously distracted) driver if you crash and burn just because your engine shuts off? I’ve had my engine die before at freeway speeds and while no picnic, it didn’t seem so terrifically difficult to pull over to the side of the road.

Or in this case switch to neutral, restart the car, put back in drive and carry on driving. It seems like a no-brainer to me.

Sure, that works too. But you might want to pull over, if for no other reason than to assess the situation (and in this particular case, take off all the other keys and crap you have hanging from your keychain).

Is this all related to the issue of having a heavy key chain?

I remember this discussion on Car Talk on NPR in 2009.

Tom and Ray said then that many ignition problems were cause by having too many trinkets on the key chain, and to remove anything of any weight. In fact, they recommended no key chain at all. The key jiggling in the ignition could cause the car to shut off or the ignition system to short out. I don’t remember it specifically relating to any one car manufacturer.

edit: sorry, I see the Diceman covered this. Still wonder about the Car Talk guys.

Who cares? Cars, for safety reasons, need to be able to accommodate bad drivers as well as good ones. Why shouldn’t they? A drivers license is all you need to legally drive in this country. And you don’t have to be a good driver to get a license. You just need to display a bare minimum of competency for one single day–and then you can legally drive for many years (or possibly for life, depending on the state).

There are plenty of capable (not good, not bad, just middle-of-the-road) drivers who would panic if their car shut off on the highway.

I disagree about how far up the spectrum that would go (I sure hope you’re wrong, that’s for sure). But in any event, the news about this recall is being presented as though the “defect” in the cars killed all these people. I think it should be presented as a somewhat more complicated picture.