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July 13, 2014

Dealer backlogs of recall repairs worry drivers

RALEIGH, N.C. — After waiting five weeks for General Motors to put a new, safe ignition system in her 2010 Chevy Cobalt, Gwendolyn Swain was starting to worry.

“I haven’t driven that car in three days, because I don’t have a good feeling about it,” Swain, 63, of Rocky Mount said. “I thought it would be treated as an emergency and I would be taken care of right away. The longer it takes, the more anxious I become.”

She drives one of 17 million cars GM has recalled this year to fix faulty ignition switches that have been implicated in 16 crash deaths since 2001. The cars are at risk of being jolted out of the “on” position – a dangerous shift that can disable airbags, power steering and brakes while the car is moving down the road.

Dealers for Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and other GM cars have ordered repair parts for thousands of car owners. In most cases, the fix involves a new ignition cylinder and ignition switch and new keys. When the parts arrive, the customer is asked to bring in the recalled car to make the repair.

“We’re working through a list of about 300, and about 60 percent of them are completed,” said George Anderson, owner of Sir Walter Chevrolet in Raleigh. “We don’t have too many people who are terribly upset, but it is frustrating to have your car recalled and not be able to get it (fixed) right away.”

Betty-Ann Landman has been waiting at least four months for Performance Chevrolet of Chapel Hill to get the repair parts for her 2003 Saturn Ion.

“They’ve got a long waiting list,” said Landman, 79, who lives in Chapel Hill.

GM announced the first batch of 2.6 million recalls in February, acknowledging that its engineers had discovered the faulty ignition switch in the Cobalt and similar models a decade ago.

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