SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Lots of people, of course, are on the road this Memorial Day weekend. The big news for many drivers is there's been more GM recalls. General Motors has recalled some 15 million cars, trucks, and SUVs around the world this year. The spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, also known as NHTSA, told Reuters that faulty ignition switches may have led to more than 13 deaths previously reported.
If you bought your vehicle from a dealer, GM will notify you. But if you bought your car from a previous owner, Alec Gutierrez of Kelly Blue Book says you've got to be vigilant.
ALEC GUTIERREZ: If you haven't heard the news and you suspect that you might be impacted, we recommend going to either GM's website, calling your local dealer, heading to NHTSA's website. They usually do a pretty good job of tracking and making available information on all current and open recalls. But if you think you might be impacted, we recommend checking one of those sources to see if you need to head to the dealership.
SIMON: I suspect the answer to this is no, but just to nail it down, if you bring in your car for an authorized repair and they have to hold it for a day or two, do you get a loaner car? I'm almost fighting back the laughter at the thought.
GUTIERREZ: It's actually going to depend on the specific vehicle being recalled in your dealer, really. Honestly, in a lot of cases, if you ask for a loaner car, the dealer will try and take care of you. They want to ensure that you maintain that loyalty to the brand and that you're likely to come back and purchase another Chevrolet product or another product from the same brand in the future.
Now specific to the ignition switch recall, GM did commit publicly to issue loaners for those that have a Cobalt or another vehicle that was a part of that recall specifically. So if you fall under that camp, you should be able to get a loaner if you ask for it.
SIMON: And that raises the question - Memorial Day is also, I gather, a big time for car sales. This can't be good publicity for GM.
GUTIERREZ: I agree. On the surface, this would not be good publicity for GM. But if the trend that we've see occur over the past couple of months holds true - and that's where GM continues to post very, very solid sales results - last month they saw seven percent year-over-year improvement in terms of new car sales volume, which beat the industry average - I would suspect that GM is actually going to see another strong month, which is surprising to myself and to you. But consumers do not seem to be alerted based on what they've heard and continue to buy GM products.
SIMON: What's the lesson of that, do you think, Mr. Gutierrez? Is it just that there is overall such trust in the GM brand, or is the lesson that any publicity helps as long as they spell it right, GM being pretty easy to spell, or something else?
GUTIERREZ: Really, I think it comes down to the fact that consumers have become somewhat desensitized to the nature of recalls in general. We've seen so many recalls over the last several years. Last year alone, I think, there were north of 22 million vehicles recalled in the U.S. alone.
Consumers tend to view these recall actions as proactive by the manufacturer, in terms of them ensuring that the vehicles that they sold are going to remain of high quality and remain safe on the road. So consumers seem to be able to look past recalls and just continue to buy whatever best meets their needs or their budget.
SIMON: Alec Gutierrez of the Kelly Blue Book. Thanks very much for being with us. May I put it this way, good motoring to you this weekend, sir.
GUTIERREZ: And the same to you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.