The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a recall for 2022 and 2023 Chevrolet Malibu sedans. This recall is for improperly welded front impact bars inside its plastic fascias. As with virtually all recalls, the expectation was that Chevrolet would soon begin rolling out a recall campaign. Instead, it says it will buy back the cars from their owners.
Can’t the Malibu impact bars just be rewelded?
The NHTSA says front crash sensors are affected. They can become compromised to the extent they won’t operate properly. This can affect passenger safety. As GM began its own investigation into the front impact bumper issue, it found there were a series of issues causing the problem.
According to GM, the front frame rail outer panel is cut too short. The 10 mm difference won’t allow them to be properly welded to the frame. GM first became aware of the problem on August 3, 2022.
How did Chevrolet discover the Malibu issue?
The corporation has a safety program called Speak Up For Safety. It allows line workers to flag problems they see on the assembly line. It was through this process that a production operator informed the company of the problem. From there, GM contacted the supplier.
Dealerships were notified about the recall on December 14. They’re instructed to inspect the cars and if a problem is discovered, the dealer is advised not to fix the issue. Instead, it should inform the customer the Malibu will be repurchased by GM.
In all, 2,108 Chevrolet Malibu sedans built between July 27, 2022, and August 3, 2022, are involved. It is not known whether GM will remediate the cars found to have the problem (depending on whether it is even legal to resell a buyback involved in a safety recall) or instead destroy them. By them being voluntarily repurchased. We suspect the latter is the likeliest conclusion. In any case, recall notices will start rolling out starting on February 6, 2023.
Can GM resell repaired safety recall vehicles?
Manufacturers buying back defective products is rare, but not unheard of. Recently, Toyota repurchased bZ4X EVs after determining its engineers needed more time to fix issues. Of course, the most familiar manufacturer buybacks are for Lemon Law repurchases.
In those instances that a car is a Lemon Law buyback, it can later be resold. But manufacturers must retitle the cars back to themselves. They also must indicate on the new title it is a Lemon Law buyback. And warning stickers are required to be placed at required spots on the car.
Interestingly, Lemon Law vehicles are not legally required to have been repaired. But in the case of these Malibu sedans, the expectation is that because this is a safety-related buyback, if it can be retitled by GM, it is required to have the defect repaired.