Gm recalls about 27k vehicles to fix transmissions

I read the news early this morning and the first headline was the following:

GM recalls about 27K vehicles to fix transmissions

DETROIT (AP) - General Motors is recalling nearly 27,000 Buicks and Cadillacs in the U.S. to fix a problem with the automatic transmissions.
The recall affects Buick LaCrosse full-size cars and Cadillac SRX crossover SUVs from the 2013 model year.
The company says a software problem can cause the transmissions to inadvertently shift into sport mode. That can unexpectedly override any slowing effect from the transmission, increasing the risk of a crash.
GM says no crashes or injuries have been reported.
GM will reprogram the transmission at no cost to the owners. The recall is expected to start March 28.
The Buicks were built from April 25, 2012 through March 6, 2013. The Cadillacs were built from May 29, 2012 through Feb. 18, 2013.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
3/20/2013 8:21:47 AM (GMT -4:00)

I don’t know about anyone else but I think vehicle manufacturers should leave any electrical or electronic devices out of all transmissions. I know it’s probably done to squeeze out every last drop of fuel economy from the vehicles and not much else. In my humble opinion, the newer transmissions shift worse than the older versions without all the add-on electrical/electronic gobbledegook. I know that electronically controlled engines are here to stay but I believe in a “hands off” policy when it comes to transmissions.

I believed in lock-up torque converters when they first came out because there was room for improvement there. Many of them were simply disconnected though when problems began to appear after they become commonplace in cars and trucks. I may sound like chicken little here but I believe the day is rapidly approaching when over-technologized vehicles simply lose their reliability and reasonable cost of operation. When a vehicle costs as much to maintain as they do to purchase then the glory days of vehicle ownership will be gone. I guess vehicle leasing will almost make sense if that day ever arrives.

I may sound like chicken little here but I believe the day is rapidly approaching when over-technologized vehicles simply lose their reliability and reasonable cost of operation.

Are you seeing an INCREASE in vehicle problems due to more technology?? I’m certainly not. I’d agree with that statement if there was evidence that there actually was a problem with the new technology.

Mike…I personally don’t see much of an increase in vehicle problems because I don’t buy technically advanced vehicles if I can help it. I just know that problems with electric steering systems, air pressure monitoring, smart keys, CEL systems and ABS are on the rise. These are only a few examples that did not exist in years past.

Step back and really examine the problems that these “technological advancements” cause and you may see what I’m talking about. I may be wrong but I don’t see reliability as being a strong suit for these newer vehicles. I really don’t and that’s a shame. When a supposed technically advanced vehicle struggles to get to 200K and a 50 year old vehicle reached it with relative ease…then something is wrong.

Unfortunately, missileman, you and I will both have no choice but to buy technologically advanced cars in the very near future…like tomorrow. We can send our letters of thanks to the EPA. It’s th eonly way manufacturers will be able to meet AFE and emissions requirements.

The good news is that it allows our cars now to go over 200,000 miles before they show signs of old age…300,000 becoming more and more common.

I’d have to agree with Mike that today’s cars are far more reliable, maintenance free, and long lasting than they were when I started owning cars in the '60s. Of course, they’re over two times as expensive. A modest new car used to cost about 25% of average per-capita gross annual income. Now it’s about 55%. Sigh.

Thanks @mountainbike. The reason that I even started the post was that I was at a round table discussion with some members of my church. Many of them own brand new cars and trucks and a lot of them were having problems already. Two of them were already stranded for a while when their “Smart” keys failed to operate. One nearly wrecked when the electric steering suddenly went out for no apparent reason. My niece became so disgusted with the problems she was having with her year old BMW X5 that she traded it in on another SUV. I don’t buy new vehicles anymore so the only information I have about reliability of new vehicles comes from friends and family. The newest vehicle that I own is a 2005 so I may be about 8 years out of touch. Time will tell if all this increased technology is a good thing or a very expensive thing for the average consumer.

Your point is a good one, and one I too think about. I read about the problems particularly with the electric steering and the use of the braking system for stability control (I believe the term to be a misnomer). A sudden fault in a security system can mean a ruined day, but a sudden fault in one of these systems can cause a crash.

One of the things that I hope evolves is better communication to the owner. I’m finding that there are numerous problems, particularly as regards security systems and body control systems (controlled by BCMs) that the owner would be able to correct if he/she were only given the procedures in the manual. I myself have had two, one a wind leak in my roof that only required “reinitializing” and the other window control problems after battery removal that required “reinitializing” of the windows. In both cases the protocols required zero specialozed knowledge and zero equipment. But the average owner would not have had access to the procedures, or even knowledge that they existed. In the case of my roof, a dealer service manager (yeah, I know, but that’s another thread) didn’t even know they existed.

By the way, my vehicle is a 2005 too.

You have a good and valid point. We’ll see where it all ends up.

I’m not seeing the more technical cars as being more unreliable. My wifes Lexus is very technologically advanced…yet it’s been extremely reliable. Little over 110k miles and not even a glitch. All cars from all manufacturers are more technologically advanced then just even 10 years ago. As MB pointed out…300k is going to be the norm soon.

The Toyota Prius is about as electronic a car as possible. I have friends with these cars and the cars have been extremely reliable.
As I remember, the Borg-Warner overdrive in the 1940s through the 1960s was electrically controlled and I don’t remember it as being particularly trouble prone.

While I agree that the increased complexity should in theory make cars less reliable and harder to repair, with the exception of some early 80s cars where the manufacturers were still trying to get it right, all my 1990s and up cars have been more reliable, not less. They are still hard to repair, thanks to a lot of stuff being crammed into a small space, but onboard diagnostics do help with the computer systems.

I think that computer-aided design and the ability to model a design before it ever reaches even prototype stage, as well as better testing of components and quality control have offset the increased complexity. Cars seem to be more reliable than ever before IMHO. A lot safer too for that matter.

A case in point: While you still see the occasional car broken down by the side of the road, you just don’t see nearly as many as you did in the 70s and 80s. Cast off mufflers and exhaust pipes used to be such a common thing to encounter on the road–you just don’t see that today either. Same with seriously rusted out cars–not because cars are living longer to rust, but because they are protected better.

When I was learning to drive, most cars were pretty well spent and starting to rust pretty well by the time they hit 100K miles. Now 200K is the new 100K, and increasing. There are still poor designs out there–Subaru head gaskets come to mind… You also don’t see cars seeping fluids as much as decades ago.

@TSM (and others):

  1. I thought the increase in number of vehicles reaching 200k mi were due little to electronics, and much more to a) tighter machining tolerances b) better materials (like in rings) to meet EPA emission warranty and c) higher cost of replacement with new car (i.e. the "Cuba effect.) Cleaner running might keep oil somewhat cleaner, but the same net effect could be realized by a shortened oil change interval.

  2. I disagree that complexity (electronic or otherwise) doesn’t make a car more maintenance-intensive. (Just look at the percentage of “car repair” posts involving failures of things that arent strictly necessary for the movement of a four-wheeled land vehicle.

  3. Regardless of 2, when breakdowns do occur, complexity DOES make repair more expensive and harder to diagnose.

Chalk me up as a skeptic…

I often pass farm equipment dealers whose scrap yards are full of late model tractors and combines that are being stripped of salvageable components and then scrapped. $100,000+ pieces of John Deere and Case equipment are junk in a few short years when one component fails yet an old shop in town that repairs and sells old tractors searches far and wide for Ford 8Ns and John Deere Ms and cannot keep up with the demand. An original Ford 8N, unrestored but running, will sell for $1,000 to $2,500 locally. A great many older men want a basic, dependable, easily repaired tractor that will get the job done. And likewise, many of us appreciate automobiles with the same qualities. remote mirrors, rear view cameras, ABS, traction control, day/night tinted glass, etc, ad nasseaum, are somewhat $uperfluou$ gimmicks of extremely limited value to an extremely narrow segment of the market yet they add significantly to the initial cost, the cost of maintenance, and often can be the cause for scrapping an otherwise serviceable vehicle. I recall the Lincoln automatic leveling system of 20 years ago. Cars with that suspension were lepers for the owners.

Meanjoe, better manufacturing techniques, better materials, better deign techniques, and better process controls are absolutely a major reason that cars last far longer, but they’re in addition to the reason of electronics rather than instead of . Electronics enable multiport fuel injection, which all by itself enables engines to run much cleaner and more efficientlty. Both contribute to reliability and longevity.

Shortening oil change intervals a,one would not help the engine run cleaner, it would only lubricate better. The engine would still produce carbon, still have blowby, and still produce just as much particulate. It’s the ability to control and aerate the fuel far more effectively along with the much more cosistant parts and much better materials that enable the engines to run cleaner.

There’s a miconception that modern manufacturing techniques directly reduce tolerances. They do not. What they reduce is variation. One of the side effects of reducing variation is to be able to reduce tolerances, but they’re not the same thing.

Allow me to use an analogy.
Lets say you have a bow and arrows, and a target with a 5" diameter bullseye, and you can hit 8 of 10 shots in the bullseye. If you reduce the bullseye to 4", that does not improve your shots. It does not improve your variation. It only reduces the number in the bullseye. However, if you mount the bow in a jig. reducing your variation to 3", and you adjust the bow such that the shots are centered around the bullseye, you’ve reduced your variation rather than changed the size of the bulls eye. The shots are the variation, the bullseye is the tolerance. It’s the variation you want to change, not the tolerance.

Yeah, thats what i meant: that nowadays, every engine is in essence a “blueprinted” engine…not that clearances between moving parts were reduced.

Still, given the enduring nature of truly stone-age mills like the 4.9L Ford six and the simple, mechanical injected diesels…makes silicon (in the engine, not design process) seem overrated.

I never thought of it that way, but I like the thought that today’s engines are in essence “blueprinted”.

I see your point about the old designs still workin, but the modern engines last much longer than they used to produced the old way. When I was a kid, “ring jobs” and rebuilds were fairly common, and 100,000 miles out of a car meant that it was time to shop for a replacement. Today that’s more like 200,000 miles, and rebuilds aren’t common at all except among the car culture. Most car go from a family to the kids to the aftermarket and straight to the boneyard.

The day without a computer is gone. Electrical circuits are cheaper than mechanical, it does not mean they are better, but instead of a broken hardware you have broken software.

@Barkydog: Software in vehicles does not get broken like software on PCs, as it is stored in firmware…er, at least not as easily. (and also can’t be easily tampered with like when someone installs 100 Gigabytes of crapware on their home computer, mucking everything up) Now poorly-written or inadequately debugged software, that’s another story. Auto manufacturers release firmware updates all the time to fix bugs in software and drivability problems that squeaked through vehicle testing.

Software may have a bug in it…but it can’t just break. The software is loaded onto a Prom or Eprom or EEProm. Once loaded it CAN’T change. If there’s a problem with the software 2 years later…it means that it wasn’t found until then. The problem ALWAYS existed.

I find the futurist in myself wondering whether the time will come when some functions of our car are controlled like functions in a drone…via some remote control source. At that point, perhaps it will be possible for some sinister person to mess with the signals.

@the same mountainbike: With Onstar, we’re already at that point. Eventually someone will hack it and have access to unlock doors, shut down engines, gather data, etc. Not an easy task with the encryption protocols used and the need for specialized radio equipment, but history shows that every time someone makes a better mousetrap, the mice are improved.

Believe it or not…if you want to make a system secure you can. Especially a simple system like a ECU. Right now there’s a laptop in the possession of the FBI. Owned by a suspected pedophile. They’ve been trying to break the encryption he has for suspected child porn. They’ve had it for 2 years and have been unable to break it.