A First? Car Talk saves Gary money

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

Thanks!! I would like to express my appreciation for your article on General Motors power steering problems. The problem you described (difficult steering for a few minutes when the car is cold) was exactly what I had experienced with my Oldsmobile. Unfortunately I had the problem repaired one and a half years ago at a cost of 466.58 dollars! However, persistence and patience (about three months worth) paid off. After MANY phone calls, letters, and a couple of FAX's, I finally received a full refund. Thanks!

TOM: We're continually amazed by the number of people who have this problem, and have not heard that General Motors has offered to fix it for free.

RAY: If your GM car is hard to steer for the first few minutes when the car is cold, it's probably due to one of the now famous defective GM power steering racks. GM says it will fix it for free if the following conditions are met:

TOM: 1) Your car is less than five years old and has fewer than 50,000 miles on it (whichever comes first). 2) You tell your dealer that you KNOW it's sup??posed to be fixed for free, and don't let him talk you out of it.

RAY: It's bad enough that they produced a lousy design. But what's really shameful is that some dealers aren't telling people that it's supposed to be fixed for free, because the dealership makes less money doing warranty work than it makes when you pay full price.

TOM: If your GM car matches the above description, and your dealer doesn't volunteer to fix it for free, you should first try talking to the manufacturer's zone manager. If that doesn't work, try the customer assistance center in Detroit (your dealer should have both of these numbers). Be polite, but don't take "no" for an answer.

RAY: GM should really take a lesson from our pal Lee Iococca over at Chrysler, who recently came around to our way of thinking. You may have heard that Chrysler has been having problems with its "Ultradrive" transmission. After giving customers who complained the corporate shrug for about two years, (Operation Transmission Shield), Iococca finally saw the light and told Chrysler dealers to go ahead and fix every single one of them (Operation Transmission Storm). "What ever it takes," he told his dealers, "fix them."

TOM: Iococca realized that he'd make much more money in the long run from happy, loyal customers than he'd make from charging people to fix his defective transmissions. Now if I were a Chrysler owner, that attitude would go a long way toward making me happy.

RAY: On the other hand, GM doesn't appear to care enough about making its customers happy. You would think that with customers so hard to come by these days, GM would put a little more effort into hanging on to the one's they've got, wouldn't you? Go figure.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter

Got a question about your car?

Ask Someone Who Owns One