People Keep Buying GM's Recalled Cars Because They're Super Cheap

Illustration for article titled People Keep Buying GMs Recalled Cars Because Theyre Super Cheap

You might think that in light of a 1.4 million vehicle recall for an ignition switch problem cited in 12 deaths, people would stop buying used Chevy Cobalts, HHRs and the other recalled models. Nope! Americans gotta have their cheap used cars.

CNN Money reports that in spite of the recall and all the negative press surrounding the cars lately, demand for mid-2000s GM cars has not dampened in the least. According to Kelley Blue Book and, prices for the cars are not only unchanged, they're up slightly in some cases.


The recall includes the aforementioned Cobalt and HHR, plus the Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky. That's kind of funny considering the automaker itself is offering owners $500 at the moment to dump these cars.

Why are people still buying them? Because they're really affordable, says one analyst:

Another reason pricing has remained firm is that the cars are not very expensive to begin with. On average, they have about 100,000 miles on them, so they usually cost between $4,000 to $8,000, said Kelley analyst Alec Gutierrez.

"People shopping these cars are shopping for bargains," he said. "These prices tend to move pretty broadly, and pretty slowly."


Interesting, but maybe not surprising. If you know anyone who is investing in one of these cars, make sure they lighten their key rings until the part is fixed under recall.


That analyst also speculates that despite the anger some feel toward GM at the moment, most buyers may not end up caring, now or ever:

"My gut says GM has not lost the goodwill that it's built up in the last few years," said Gutierrez. "Provided that GM is able to get this fix out there, and we don't get a new story about severity getting worse, this will pass for GM."


In the meantime, GM also says they should get enough parts to have all the recalled cars fixed by October or so.

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If you need a cheap car, go ahead and buy one. I really don't see an issue if you just realize what the problem is and adjust accordingly. The ignition detent plunger/spring assembly is too short and weak allowing it to switch off if there is too much weight hanging on the key.

Solution: Don't hang a bunch of stuff on your ignition key, and even if your car loses power, take your hand and switch the key back to the 'on' position (this will reactivate the airbags). If needed, slip transmission into neutral and restart the car. Continue driving.

I used to have an old Firebird that would die on me while driving. I could flick the transmission into neutral and restart the car without losing a beat. I think this is mainly a problem for clueless drivers (which is why I suppose they are buying HHRs and Cobalts in the first place.)