Santa Tracker: OnStar Keeps Tabs on the Big Guy

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He's sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when your awake, but the spying can go both ways. For the sixth year in a row, OnStar will again be able to help customers keep tabs on Santa this Christmas.

Related: How to Transport Your Christmas Tree

OnStar is teaming up with North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) Tracks Santa program; U.S., Canada and Mexico subscribers can follow the big guy's whereabouts across the globe Christmas Eve with a press of the blue OnStar button. Customers can request a "Santa Update" between 7 a.m. Dec. 24 until 5 a.m. EST Dec. 25 and get Santa's location based on NORAD's official Santa Tracker Map.

Motorists with more pressing OnStar needs shouldn't be affected by the added Santa-tracking requests; OnStar says it's adding additional staff to accommodate the higher volume of calls. OnStar can't however, help you get a line on that sold out Elsa doll you've been searching for.

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By Jennifer Geiger | December 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

GM Issues Fix for New Key Issue in Cars Under Ignition Recall

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GM is sending letters to the owners of some 2.2 million 2000s-era small cars involved in the automaker's ignition-cylinder recall for an unrelated problem: Put the car in Park and the key may not come out when you turn it off. Although it applies to the same group of vehicles subject to one of the automaker's most serious recalls this year, GM spokesman Alan Adler insists it's unrelated.

Related: GM: 58 Percent of U.S. Cars in Ignition Recall Are Fixed

You can still get a stuck key out of many cars by pressing a plunger under the steering column. But it’s an inconvenient procedure, as depicted above in the owner's manual for a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt. GM's fix? Replace the console-mounted automatic transmission shifter, which can fail to send an electrical signal to the ignition when the car is put in Park. That signal allows you to rotate the key from the Run position into the Lock position and remove it, the automaker said in an emailed statement.

The problem only occurs in "3 to 4 percent of the vehicles," Adler said, but GM is sending letters to owners of all 2.2 million cars in the original recall. That figure comes from 2.59 million cars worldwide — the vast majority in the U.S. and Canada — under the ignition-switch recall, minus cars with manual transmissions, which don't have the problem, and cars that have been scrapped. If owners experience the sticking key, they can bring their vehicles into any GM dealer (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet or GMC) and get the transmission shifter replaced for free.

By Kelsey Mays | December 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

2015 Chevrolet Trax: First Drive

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By William Jackson

Buying a small car used to mean buying a hatchback or sedan, but now carmakers are rolling out SUVs to fill up that end of the market. Subcompact SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Kia Soul have been around for a while, but Chevrolet, Honda and Mazda are entering the fray with the Trax, HR-V and CX-3, respectively.

Related: Research the 2015 Chevrolet Trax

With its 2015 Trax, Chevrolet offers a small SUV with exceptional visibility, good interior room, a surprisingly large cargo area, but pokey acceleration — especially with the optional all-wheel drive.

By David Thomas | December 5, 2014 | Comments (8)

GM to Replace Ignition Keys on Certain New SUVs, Pickup Trucks

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GM will replace the ignition keys in its redesigned full-size SUVs and pickup trucks with a smaller key. The company issued a safety bulletin on Nov. 6 because the automatic transmission's column shifter can inadvertently move the key out of the "run" position if it bumps into it during shifting. Affected models include the 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet Silverado pickups, the related 2015 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe SUVs, the 2014 and 2015 GMC Sierra pickups, and the related 2015 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs.

Related: GM: 58 Percent of U.S. Cars in Ignition Recall Are Fixed

It sounds like another ignition-related problem for an automaker that's seen more than half of the 26.8 million cars recalled in the U.S. during 2014 stem from such issues, but this is much less serious. For starters, it's not a recall. The condition occurs only if you adjust the steering column to its highest point, apply the brakes and move the column shifter between gears — presumably while the car is stopped — so GM maintains it isn't a safety problem. For any owners who experience the issue, dealers will replace the key with a smaller design that doesn't bump the shifter.

By Kelsey Mays | December 4, 2014 | Comments (3)

Recall Alert: 273,000 2006-2009 GM Sedans, SUVs

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Vehicles Affected: More than 273,000 GM vehicles, including model-year 2006-09 Buick LaCrosse sedans, and SUVs including 2006-07 Chevrolet TrailBlazers, 2006 TrailBlazer EXTs, 2006-07 GMC Envoys, 2006 Envoy XLs, 2006-07 Buick Rainiers, 2006-08 Saab 9-7Xes and 2006-08 Isuzu Ascenders

The Problem: If the headlamp driver module is not operating correctly, the low-beam headlamps and daytime running lamps could intermittently or permanently fail to illuminate, increasing the risk of a crash. GM says it has not been able to confirm whether the problem has resulted in any accidents. The condition does not affect the high-beam headlamps, marker lamps, turn signals or fog lamps, the automaker said.

The Fix: GM will notify owners, and dealers will make the necessary repairs for free. The automaker has not yet announced a notification schedule.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call GM at 800-458-8006 for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

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By Matt Schmitz | December 1, 2014 | Comments (0)

GM: 58 Percent of U.S. Cars in Ignition Recall Are Fixed

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GM has repaired nearly 6 in 10 small cars it recalled for faulty ignitions earlier this year. That's what The Detroit News reported on Nov. 28; GM spokesman Alan Adler confirmed the numbers to Cars.com today.

Related: Survey: Recalls Influence Car Shoppers

Between Feb. 25 and April 9, GM recalled a global total — North America plus a few exports — of 2.59 million cars, mostly 2000s-era Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion compacts. Of that group, the U.S. accounted for 2.19 million recalled vehicles. But some 230,000 cars in the global figure "are either scrapped or untraceable in terms of a registration standpoint," Adler said. GM has targeted 2.36 million recalled cars globally, with 1.96 million of them here.

By Kelsey Mays | December 1, 2014 | Comments (3)

Recall Alert: 2015 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV

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Vehicles Affected: More than 1,000 model-year 2015 Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV luxury SUVs

The Problem: The passenger-side instrument panel top cover may have been manufactured using an incorrect spacer fabric, causing a reduction of adhesion between the spacer fabric and the vinyl show surface. This could cause inconsistent passenger airbag deployment, increasing the risk of an injury in a crash necessitating airbags.

The Fix: Cadillac manufacturer GM will notify owners, and dealers will replace the instrument panel top cover for free. The automaker has not yet announced a notification schedule.

What Owners Should Do: Owners can call GM at 800-458-8006, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's vehicle-safety hotline at 888-327-4236 or go to www.safercar.gov for more info.

Need to Find a Dealer for Service? Go to Cars.com Service & Repair to find your local dealer.

More Recalls

By Matt Schmitz | November 21, 2014 | Comments (0)

Survey: Recalls Influence Car Shoppers

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If you're weary of the nonstop recall coverage lately, we don't blame you. It's been an unprecedented year for them. Tallying recalls is a dubious task, given the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's counts a vehicle recall as anything from passenger cars to garbage trucks and motorcycles. But the Detroit Free Press counted 56.1 million auto recalls year to date on Oct. 20 — a figure that thumped NHTSA's prior record of 30.8 million vehicle recalls set in 2004, according to annual totals obtained by Cars.com. And that was two days before NHTSA added another 3.1 million cars to a widespread airbag recall.

Related: What Cars Are Included in the Takata Airbag Recall?

Meanwhile, new-car sales at GM are up 3.9 percent through October. That falls short of the industry's 5.5 percent gain, according to Automotive News, but it's better than you'd expect for an automaker whose 25.6 million recalls top other automakers by a mile. Other recall-heavy automakers have had mixed years: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is up 15.8 percent and Toyota is up 5.8 percent, but Ford and Honda are roughly flat.

Still, a new survey suggests that car shoppers do, in fact, care about recalls — and most of them know about this year's largest ones. How that influences shoppers' decisions, on the other hand, is up for debate.

By Kelsey Mays | November 10, 2014 | Comments (1)

Report: GM Ordered Replacement Ignition Switches Two Months Before Recall

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The New York Times reported today that GM ordered some 500,000 replacement ignition switches from auto-parts supplier Delphi Automotive in December 2013. That was nearly two months before GM told regulators and the general public that the existing ignition switches, which have led to some 2.2 million recalled small cars in the U.S., could get bumped into the "off" position. Citing emails declassified by a plaintiff's attorney during class-action litigation against GM — and first reported by The Wall Street Journal — the Times notes that the request represented "an urgent field action" and far outweighed a previous request for 11,000 such switches in 2012.

Related: New House Report Blasts NHTSA

The report fuels claims that GM knew about the problem before disclosing it to the public. Earlier this year, news reports said GM may have known about the faulty switches as early as 2002. The automaker faces investigations from the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, 48 state attorneys general and Canadian officials, according to The Detroit News.

GM says the emails simply confirm that the automaker's previous defect reporting and investigation systems needed reform, something it claimed it's done. "We have reorganized our entire safety investigation and decision process and have more investigators, move issues more quickly and make decisions with better data," the automaker said in a statement.

Click here to read the full story from the New York Times.

Cars.com photo by Ian Merritt

By Kelsey Mays | November 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

2014 L.A. Auto Show: What to Expect

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If you like luxury vehicles, SUVs or sports cars — and even luxury SUVs that perform like sports cars — you're gonna love the lineup of debuts at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show later this month. Organizers say there will be 60 premieres, 30 of them global and nearly two-thirds will be luxury and performance offerings.

More 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show News

Set to bow at the 107-year-old event — the last major auto show of the calendar year and the first of the new auto-show season — are a host of SUVs, from compact crossovers to midsize models. Performance coupes, convertibles and sedans also abound from automakers ranging from Scion to Cadillac.

And perhaps fitting for the Southern California city famed for its air of affluence, nearly half of the anticipated entrees on our list of what to watch for are from luxury automakers. Among those are SUVs and sports cars from the likes of Audi and BMW. Moreover, during the Connected Car Expo on Nov. 18, Volvo's "Drive Me" autonomous vehicle will make its North American debut, at which time executives will discuss the automaker's driverless technology.

Here's what we'll be looking for as Cars.com covers the L.A. auto show from the event floor:

By Matt Schmitz | November 5, 2014 | Comments (0)

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