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A decade later, here are 4 cars we miss and 5 we're happy are gone [UPDATE]

07/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Coupes, Sports/GTs, Etc., Hatchbacks, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Mazda, Pontiac, Porsche, Ferrari

Mazda RX-8

Automotive anniversaries are often big news. Last year, the Chevrolet Corvette turned 60 and the Porsche 911 hit 50. This year, the spritely Mazda MX-5 Miata turns 25. The iconic Ford Mustang just turned the big Five-Oh, too.

But what about lesser anniversaries? Think about it: there are plenty of cars with birthdays that slide under the radar every year. And some automotive endeavors don't even last long enough to warrant a proper milestone celebration.

To that end, we're taking a look back to 2004 - just 10 years ago - to see what vehicles would be celebrating a decade of life, assuming they were still alive today. Do note, for this list, we've only included vehicles that launched for the 2004 model year, not calendar year.

Have a look below to see both iconic and easily forgettable cars that would be celebrating 10 fruitful years in 2014... if they were still alive.

Continue reading A decade later, here are 4 cars we miss and 5 we're happy are gone [UPDATE]

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GM recalling 8.4M cars, 8.2M related to ignition problems

07/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Coupes, Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Trucks/Pickups, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Crossovers/CUVs, Hatchbacks, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM, GMC, Pontiac, Saab

GM's Barra Says Not Planning Further Ignition Switch Dismissals

GM Recall ChartGeneral Motors today announced a truly massive recall covering some 8.4 million vehicles in North America. Most significantly, 8.2 million examples of the affected vehicles are being called back due to "unintended ignition key rotation," though GM spokesperson Alan Adler tells Autoblog that this issue is not like the infamous Chevy Cobalt ignition switch fiasco.

For the sake of perspective, translated to US population, this total recall figure would equal a car for each resident of New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, the District of Columbia, Vermont and Wyoming. Combined. Here's how it all breaks down:

7,610,862 vehicles in North America being recalled for unintended ignition key rotation. 6,805,679 are in the United States.

  • 1997-2005 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue
  • 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero
  • 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am
  • 2000-2005 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2000-2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • 2004-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix
A second group of vehicles* are being recalled for a slightly different ignition key rotation issue (more details below). 616,179 of these vehicles are in North America, with 554,328 found in the United States.
  • 2004-2006 Cadillac SRX
  • 2013-2014 Cadillac CTS
Additionally 20,134 North American vehicles are being recalled because "insulation on the engine block heater power cord (if equipped) may become damaged during very cold conditions." 2,990 of these vehicles are in the United States.
  • 2011-2014 Chevrolet Cruze
  • 2012-2014 Chevrolet Sonic
  • 2013-2014 Chevrolet Trax
  • 2013-2014 Buick Encore
  • 2013-2014 Buick Verano
117 vehicles in North America "may not have had a 'Superhold' joint fastener torqued to specification at the assembly plant." 106 of these vehicles are in the US.
  • 2014 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 2014 Chevrolet Impala
  • 2014 Buick Regal
  • 2014 Cadillac XTS
12,002 vehicles in North America are being recalled because "an overload in the feed may cause the underhood fusible link to melt due to electrical overload, resulting in potential smoke or flames that could damage the electrical center cover and/or the nearby wiring harness conduit." 9,371 of the affected vehicles are in the US.
  • 2007-2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD (with auxiliary battery)
  • 2007-2011 GMC Sierra HD (with auxiliary battery)
Finally, 188,705 SUVs in North America are being recalled due to "a possible electrical short in the driver's door module that could disable the power door lock and window switches and, in rare cases, overheat the module." Here, 181,984 of these vehicles are in the US.
  • 2005-2007 Buick Ranier
  • 2005-2007 Chevrolet TrailBlazer
  • 2005-2007 GMC Envoy
  • 2005-2007 Isuzu Ascender
  • 2005-2007 Saab 9-7X
  • 2006 Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT
  • 2006 GMC Envoy XL
The Cadillac models in the second grouping* have been found to be subject to unintended key rotation because of accidental bumping of one's key fobs (a condition similar to the June 13 Camaro recall), whereas the other, larger group of older vehicles is not subject to bumping. In either case, this is not like the infamous Chevy Cobalt ignition switch issue - the switch in these vehicles meet GM specifications, the company says the problem is with the key design itself.

The solution won't be a new ignition switch at all, it will be sending additional detachable key rings to owners (allowing drivers to disconnect their car key from the rest of their key chain to reduce strain on the system) and/or inserts designed to fit within the ignition key head itself to alter the keyring attachment loop from a slot to a hole (because the slot can cause the weight of the keychain to hang asymmetrically, thereby increasing the amount of torque on the key and as a result, the switch.

Company spokesperson Alan Adler, tells Autoblog that GM "changed the [key] design in late December of 2010," so vehicles built after that time are not affected by the issue.

GM is aware of seven crashes, eight injuries and three fatalities related to these issues. "The fatal crashes occurred in older model fullsize sedans being recalled for inadvertent ignition key rotation. There is no conclusive evidence that the defect condition caused those crashes," GM said in a press release. Scroll down to read the automaker's full statement.

Continue reading GM recalling 8.4M cars, 8.2M related to ignition problems

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Airbag recall adds 85k Pontiac Vibes to tally

06/14/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Hatchbacks, Pontiac, Toyota

U.S. Automakers Beat Europeans For Reliability

The repairs needed for the faulty airbag inflators supplied by Takata continue to expand. Toyota initially announced a recall of 766,300 vehicles equipped with the bad part on June 11 as a followup to a campaign from 2013. Soon after, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary evaluation into five automakers who also used the component in their models. Now, NHTSA has released the official announcement of the latest Toyota recall listing 844,277 affected cars, including the newly added 2003-2004 Pontiac Vibe.

While NHTSA's document didn't include a model-by-model breakdown, General Motors spokesperson Alan Adler estimated to Autoblog that roughly 85,000 Vibes in the US would be covered under the latest recall. Like the rest of the affected models, the airbag inflator could rupture in a crash causing the bag not to work correctly, possibly spraying metal fragments at the occupant.

Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight told Autoblog that the reason for the disparity between the earlier press release and NHTSA document was that Toyota was continuing to comb through VINs to create a list of affected vehicles. The original number was an estimate of that process at the time. Scroll down to the recall report from NHTSA.

Continue reading Airbag recall adds 85k Pontiac Vibes to tally

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GM issues four new recalls, 2.4 million cars affected

05/20/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, SUVs, Trucks/Pickups, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Crossovers/CUVs, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, Saturn, Luxury

2008 Chevy Malibu

General Motors has announced another set of recalls, covering some 2.42 million cars in the United States. For those keeping track, The General has now recalled over 15 million cars worldwide this year due to various issues.

Here's the breakdown for this most recent set of recalls:

  • 1,339,355 - Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia models from the 2009 to 2014 model years; Saturn Outlook models from the 2009 to 2010 model years
  • 1,075,102 - Chevy Malibu sedans from the 2004 to 2008 model years; Pontiac G6 models from the 2005 to 2008 model years
  • 1,402 - Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV SUVs from the 2015 model year
  • 58 - Chevy Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickups from the 2015 model year
For the Lambda crossovers, GM says that "front safety lap belt cables can fatigue and separate over time." In the event of a crash, "a separated cable could increase the risk of injury to front seat passengers," the automaker points out. GM has told its dealers not to sell any new or used examples of these vehicles until the repairs are made.

The Malibu and G6 issue, which also includes the Malibu Maxx, is an extension of a recall for Saturn Aura models with four-speed automatic transmissions. 4AT-equipped models have a condition where the transmission shift cable can fracture. "When the fracture occurs, the driver may not be able to select a different gear, remove the key from the ignition or place the transmission in park," GM states. The company is aware of 18 crashes and one injury related to this issue.

Brand-new Escalade models are being recalled because "an insufficiently heated plastic weld that attaches the passenger side air bag to the instrument panel assembly could result in a partial deployment of the air bag in the event of a crash." A stop-sale has been ordered for these SUVs, and owners have been told to not let anyone sit in the front passenger seat until the issue has been addressed.

Finally, the HD pickup recall affects vehicles equipped with a 220-amp generator. "Retention clips that attach a fuse block to the vehicle body can become loose, allowing the fuse block to move out of position and lead to a potential fire," GM states.

Overall, GM said in a press release that it expects to take a charge of up to $400 million in the second quarter, due to recall-related repairs. This figure includes the previously announced $200 million recall charge.

Scroll down for the full details in GM's press blast.

Continue reading GM issues four new recalls, 2.4 million cars affected

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GM recalling another 2.7 million vehicles in five separate campaigns

05/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Recalls/TSBs, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM, GMC, Pontiac, Saturn

2014 Chevy Malibu

The recalls keep rolling in from General Motors, evidently keen to avoid repeating the mistakes of the ignition-switch debacle and clean house. This time they're all coming at once, with five separate recalls announced together covering approximately 2.7 million vehicles.

The largest of the five actions involves over 2.4 million units of the previous-generation Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura in order to fix brake light wiring harness, which have been found to be susceptible to corrosion. The recall is separate from the 56k Aura sedans which GM recently recalled over faulty shift cables, not to mention the previous massive recall of 1.3 million vehicles - some of them the same models - but appears to have resulted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation that started with the G6 almost a year ago.

The second-largest campaign involves the 2014 Chevy Malibu, specifically those fitted with GM's 2.5-liter engine and stop/start system, approximately 140,000 examples of which has been found to have problematic brakes. The issue does not appear to be connected to the recall of 8k Malibu and Buick LaCrosse sedans (also involving brake woes) which we reported upon last week. Four crashes have been reported in such models, but GM admits it's not yet clear if the problem was a contributing factor in the accidents.

A further 112k Corvette models from the 2005-2007 model years are being called in for problems with their low-beam headlamps resulting from a flexing relay control circuit wire that's not meant to bend. GM says it is "aware of several hundred complaints" about this issue, but notes that there have been no reports of related accidents.

In addition, over 19k examples of Cadillac CTS from the 2013 and 2014 model years are being recalled over windshield wipers that might not work after a jump start.

Finally, GM is also bringing in 477 examples of its 2014 Chevy Silverado, Tahoe and GMC Sierra (though not the Yukon) to fix a problem with a tie rod in its steering rack.

As ever, all recall repairs will be performed free of charge, and GM is now estimating that recall-related actions this quarter will result in an estimated $200-million charge against its second-quarter earnings. Read the full announcement from GM below for further details.

Continue reading GM recalling another 2.7 million vehicles in five separate campaigns

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GM recalling another 2.7-million vehicles in five separate campaigns

05/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Recalls/TSBs, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GM, GMC, Pontiac, Saturn

2014 Chevy Malibu

The recalls keep rolling in from General Motors, evidently keen to avoid repeating the mistakes of the ignition-switch debacle and clean house. This time they're all coming at once, with five separate recalls announced together covering approximately 2.7 million vehicles.

The largest of the five actions involves over 2.4 million units of the previous-generation Chevrolet Malibu and Malibu Maxx, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura in order to fix brake light wiring harness, which have been found to be susceptible to corrosion. The recall is separate from the 56k Aura sedans which GM recently recalled over faulty shift cables, not to mention the previous massive recall of 1.3 million vehicles - some of them the same models - but appears to have resulted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation that started with the G6 almost a year ago.

The second-largest campaign involves the 2014 Chevy Malibu, specifically those fitted with GM's 2.5-liter engine and stop/start system, approximately 140,000 examples of which has been found to have problematic brakes. The issue does not appear to be connected to the recall of 8k Malibu and Buick LaCrosse sedans (also involving brake woes) which we reported upon last week. Four crashes have been reported in such models, but GM admits it's not yet clear if the problem was a contributing factor in the accidents.

A further 112k Corvette models from the 2005-2007 model years are being called in for problems with their low-beam headlamps resulting from a flexing relay control circuit wire that's not meant to bend. GM says it is "aware of several hundred complaints" about this issue, but notes that there have been no reports of related accidents.

In addition, over 19k examples of Cadillac CTS from the 2013 and 2014 model years are being recalled over windshield wipers that might not work after a jump start.

Finally, GM is also bringing in 477 examples of its 2014 Chevy Silverado, Tahoe and GMC Sierra (though not the Yukon) to fix a problem with a tie rod in its steering rack.

As ever, all recall repairs will be performed free of charge, and GM is now estimating that recall-related actions this quarter will result in an estimated $200-million charge against its second-quarter earnings. Read the full announcement from GM below for further details.

Continue reading GM recalling another 2.7-million vehicles in five separate campaigns

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General Motors announces another big ignition-related recall

04/11/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Recalls/TSBs, Safety, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Saturn

General Motors CEO Mary Barra finishes her testimony before a Congressional subcommittee last week.

The company is recalling 2.19 million of the same models to fix a problem that allows keys to be removed from ignitions that are not in the "off" position.

Replacement parts for cars at the center of a massive General Motors recall for defective ignition switches began arriving at dealerships across this country just this week. If car owners have already gotten repairs made, they'll need to make an additional trip to their dealerships. On Thursday, General Motors said there's another safety problem plaguing the same vehicles.

The company is recalling 2.19 million of the same Chevrolet Cobalt, HHR, Saturn Ion, Sky, Pontiac G5 and Solstice models to fix a problem that allows keys to be removed from ignitions that are not in the "off" position.

In at least one case, a vehicle rolled away in a parking lot and resulted in a crash and injury, according to GM, which said it is aware of "several hundred" complaints about keys coming out of ignitions. The company will fix the ignition lock cylinders to prevent the problem.

This is a separate problem than the one allowing ignition switches in the same models to inadvertently move from the "run" to "accessory" positions, which can turn off both the engine and airbag systems. That defect has led to 13 deaths, and subsequently, Congressional inquiries into why the company didn't recall affected vehicles sooner.

Continue reading General Motors announces another big ignition-related recall

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GM repairing 40,500 Pontiac Vibes as part of Toyota airbag recall

04/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Recalls/TSBs, Hatchbacks, Pontiac

2010 Pontiac Vibe

General Motors has confirmed to Autoblog that the Pontiac Vibe is included in Toyota's just-announced recall action. The Vibe and the Toyota Matrix share a large number of parts, including the affected cable to the airbag.

"About 40,500 Pontiac Vibes from the 2009-2010 model years are included in the Toyota recall. Toyota designed and engineered the Vibe for Pontiac. GM will service customers with these vehicles when Toyota makes the parts available," said GM recall spokesperson Alan Adler to Autoblog in an email.

The recall covers 1.3 million Toyota units in the US, including 2009-2010 Corolla, Matrix and Tacoma, the 2008-2010 Highlander, the 2006-2008 Rav4 and 2006-2010 Yaris, plus the addition of the 2009-2010 Vibe. The models all have their airbag module attached via a spiral electrical cable. The connections on this cable can be damaged when turning the steering wheel. Once broken, the airbag deactivates and the airbag warning light comes on. Toyota has an improved part, but it's still making preparations to begin repairs. It will begin notifying owners soon.

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David Hasselhoff's own KITT replica up for auction

04/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Coupes, Auctions, Pontiac, Celebrities, TV/Movies

David Hasselhoff's KITT Replica

Depending on when and where you grew up, the name David Hasselhoff likely conjures up images of Knight Rider, Baywatch, pop singer, or possibly a washed-up TV actor, but one thing that can never be taken away from The Hoff is his connection to one of the greatest automotive icons in pop culture. The Knight Industries Two Thousand, usually shortened to simply KITT, was the real star of Knight Rider for many fans. Based on a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, the car combined snarky quips for comedy relief and stunts to provide much of the show's actions. Now, Julien's Auctions is selling Hasselhoff's own replica as part of a larger sale of the actor's personal memorabilia collection.

This recreation is based on a 1986 Firebird and comes with all of the tech on the inside that now seems hilariously outdated, like the yoke steering wheel and plethora of buttons. The interior also thoughtfully includes a voice box with over 4,000 sound clips from the show. With a 5.0-liter V8 and an automatic transmission, performance is likely adequate and period correct. According to the listing, this car was created by fans and given to the Hoff. Sadly, the replica doesn't convert to Super Pursuit Mode like KITT could in later seasons, and we most associate KITT with conventional front-hinged doors to go with the power t-tops and ejector seats.

Bidding currently sits $27,500 with eight bids, since starting at $15,000. Julien's predicts it will sell for between $30,000 and $50,000. If there is some nostalgia for KITT in your heart, there is still plenty of time to bid.

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Colorado company making American Ute dreams come true

04/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Chevrolet, Pontiac, Australia, Read This

One of the American utes built by Colorado firm Left Hand Utes

Randy Reese is the Colorado dreamcatcher for those who still light votive candles at the altar of Our Lady of El Camino. He fulfills his role by importing the bodies of Australian utes, like the one pictured above, and installing them on the chassis' of fully US-compliant cars like the Pontiac GTO, G8, or Chevrolet Caprice or Impala. His two-year-old company only builds a few cars a year - each one takes 2.5 months - but they're all fully done up with their original safety equipment, accessories, Customs paperwork and VIN.

Jalopnik has the tale of how a bad divorce, a supercharger, a bunch of Hummer H3s and a trip to Australia led Reese to Left Hand Utes, and just one little click can take you there.

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