GM Sings the Recall Blues -- But So Far, Only in South Korea


During recent months, when one car company after another was issuing recalls, GM seemed to have dodged a bullet. Its luck lasted until Sunday, when the largest American automaker issued a recall in South Korea. "The recall of 58,696 vehicles will begin Monday and cover four models manufactured in South Korea, said Kim Byeong-soo, a spokesman for GM Daewoo Auto&Technology Co," The Wall Street Journalreports.

"A total of 45,957 small SUVs sold in South Korea as the Winstorm and Winstorm Maxx are being recalled due to the possibility that the steering wheel can become separated. A total of 12,604 Lacetti Premiere sedans -- sold overseas as the Chevrolet Cruze -- are being recalled for possibly defective fuel hoses that could leak," the paper reported.

Because the recall is for vehicles made by the GM Daewoo subsidiary in South Korea, it is reasonable to expect the defects being repaired will not affect cars GM makes elsewhere: The problems could be restricted to South Korea. But GM shares engineering and design elements from country to country and plant to plant, as most global car companies do. It is not clear yet whether the defects in the GM Daewoo vehicles will turn up in other GM vehicles.

Why does the number of car recalls worldwide appear to be rising rapidly? It may be that regulators have become more aggressive in their questioning of car companies regarding potential flaws to make sure they are not accused of being asleep at the wheel. Or, it may be that cars are not as well-made as consumers think. Most auto firms are not anxious to make their mistakes public, as documents given to Congress in its investigation of the Toyota (TM) recalls appear to show.