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General Motors: Manufacturing Defective Vehicles

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Susan Doyle and Jen are furious with General Motors. With good reason.

Susan Doyle is from Brantford, Ontario. "The head gasket went in my Pontiac transport van and apparently it is a known problem with GM (due to the type of antifreeze GM used from 1996 to 2000) and my motor blew," says Doyle.
Naturally, the warranty had expired.

"We bought it in 2000, it was a 1999 model with 30,000 km [almost 19,000 miles] on it. I emailed GM right after it happened. I haven't heard a word back from them," she says.

"I was coming home from work and I swear it was a deep freeze, one of the coldest days of the year. I was giving a co-worker a ride home. As we started to leave the temperature gauge shot up to overheating, but it had lots of anti-freeze. The van was running all of five minutes. I took the very next exit and turned my heater on full to keep it from overheating but it was blowing cold air.

By the time I was nearing home my feet were throbbing from the cold. So I called my husband, he picked me up and we had the vehicle towed. That is when we found out that the gasket was gone and that the motor was damaged. It was repairable to the tune of $3,700. Which we paid. In full.

Jen, from Cincinatti Ohio, bought a used 1996 GMC Jimmy in 1999. It had 30,000 miles, average for a car three years old. And again, the warranty had just expired. It was running well until two summers later. "The radiator boiled and it was making bubbling noises," says Jen. "The fluid went bad and the coolant was supposed to last 100,000 miles, but I was only about halfway there."

She had a complete chemical flush treatment. "The following winter, my engine started knocking due to overheating...then it blew up," she says. "It was 1.30 am and I was on vacation with my daughter, driving on the highway in south Georgia. I went off the road. Fortunately a police officer had pulled someone over on the other side of the highway. He called a tow truck for me."

Jen's parents had to drive up from Daytona beach with a U-haul trailer to take them back home, along with her SUV. It was towed to her mechanic, who said the engine blew because the radiator had a leak. She spent over $13,000 in repairs over six years. "General Motors wouldn't do anything; I tried repeatedly to get some help," says Jen.

This is the part that really hurts: It has been in the junkyard since July 2005 and Jen is still making payments. She refinanced it just before it blew up and will be paying for it until summer, 2008.

"I have now leased a brand new Honda and will never ever buy GM again," Jen says.

Doyle agrees. "We bought this newer vehicle because you think there won't be a problem like you get when buying a clunker. It has been very frustrating and has cost us a lot of money. We won't be buying another GM van, especially after researching and realizing through the internet that countless others have had the same problems with GM." has posted on its [website] many complaints about DexCool in GM Engines, including a form letter from GM that states the following:

Thank you for contacting the GMC Customer Assistance Center. We sincerely apologize for the coolant concerns you may be experiencing with your 2000 GMC Jimmy and 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix. The DexCool is supposed to last up to 150,000 miles under perfect operating conditions. The DexCool may not last 150,000 miles in certain parts of the country due to the environment and terrain.

Unfortunately, the coolant system is not warranted beyond the New Vehicle Warranty parameters of 3-years/36,000 miles. If you are currently experiencing a concern with your coolant system, we ask that you contact your local GMC and Pontiac dealerships. They are in the best position to diagnose the concerns you are experiencing with your vehicles. They can also advise you how often the DexCool should be changed in your area.

If you should need to contact us in the future, please e-mail us again or call our GMC Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-462-8782. Customer Relationship Managers are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

It seems out of context that GM would mention the need to contact them again. Why call when the company already admits in the same statement that it will not help?

Susan Doyle and Jen won't be phoning them again. But a lawyer will.

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