GMAC Paid Me to Take a Car…

So no one in the family was surprised I took off during our two week vacation in Yosemite to buy a car in LA that I just found a couple of days before.

Chevy became aware the Bolt EV’s battery has a regrettable tendency to… well… explode while parked in garages. Years 2017 – 2018 and the first part of 2019 had the unfortunate batteries installed. I learned about how they were doing a buyback in the FaceBook group for Bolt owners, and couldn’t believe it… a FREE CAR?! but I was willing to find out.

When I called the GM Customer Care line, the agent informed me  they were about to implement a software “fix”.  

Yeah. How do you fix a physical flaw with a software program?  Especially one as serious as that?

I mean, if it can predict the future, to hell with the car, I’d prefer the lotto numbers so I can buy as many cars as my little heart desires.   And if the software simply monitors whether the battery is on fire, well, I’d rather they…y’know… fix it… BEFORE it turns my house into the towering inferno.

Ergo, the call to the Customer Care Line, as I informed the agent.

She sighed.

“Where do you live?”

I smiled broadly, anticipating the question.

“Los Angeles.”

She sighed again. She’d clearly done this several times before… people in California and a few other states (New Jersey? Illinois?) warranted more “Customer Care” than those in states with… ahem… less aggressive lemon laws.

She cut to the chase. “Did you want to exchange the car or get a quote for a buyout?”

Now, I wasn’t looking to make a killing, or even profit from GM’s little engineering flaws. Yes, I’d like a replacement for Sparky, my little Molotov Cocktail on wheels. But i don’t need to walk away from the deal thoroughly enriched either – I’ve heard of people getting cash buyouts then turning around and getting the 2021 version while pocketing a couple thou. That seems a bit wrong. Do right by me, I’ll be as fair as possible.

“I’d like to do the exchange, please.”

“Okay.”  She gave me an extensive list of things to provide (original contract, title, registration, drivers’ licenses, insurance, first born, etc).

It took a few weeks but she got back to me, telling me to go to my local Chevy dealer and pick out my car.  HOORAY!!

Of course, they didn’t have the color I wanted, but they did have most of the options.  For a free car, I can handle white, whatever.

Next, they came back with the numbers.  I was willing to pay a bit extra for the new options I wanted, but… as I eagerly opened the email, anticipating them telling me to call the dealership to exchange keys… instead…

Please bring your check for TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS?!!!  ARE YOU OUTTA YOUR MINDS?!!

Well, more accurately, nine thousand, nine hundred something, but close as dammit.  By their accounting, I could swap the car out but I had to pay for useage and also, it was MSRP to MSRP, and the Bolt has increased in price several thou since 2017.  Also, they were very clear:  NO INCENTIVES.

My holier-than-thou stance went out the window.  Eyes narrowed, I called the rep.  

She sighed again.  “Yes, everyone is taking the buyback option now.  I know you can buy a new one for a lot less, but I can’t change the rules.”

Ooooooookay.  Let’s go buyback.

Another week of waiting.  In the meantime, those little Bolty morsels of happiness started selling like hot cakes as people are realizing just how do-able electric is.  Not to mention, gas is now HOW much a gallon? 

And did you know they have rapid chargers FOR FREE at the rest stops on the freeways?  Free.  And the monster incentives don’t hurt, either.

Finally got my letter… the second day of our 14 day trip to Yosemite with the family.  

General Motors is dismayed I’m unable to come to an agreement with them over our dissatisfaction with the vehicle in question.

Yeah, whatever.

They’re willing to give me $27,410 to make this right.

BOWZA.  The car is worth about $14,000, and for a while you couldn’t even SELL them in CA due to the little battery glitch.

We signed.   Woo-hoo!  But…god, what if we get a big ole check and I wind up with no car?

It might be my vacation but dammit, I need a car!  Started contacting dealerships.  UGH.  No, you can’t have my phone number.  Give me your best quote or leave me alone.

I found it in Monrovia. Hot dignity dog. $27,225.57 out the door, included all the options I wanted – and several Sparky didn’t have. AND it’s “ocean blue”… which, as my mother pointed out, it needed a giant white bow on top, because it’s the color of a Tiffany jeweler’s box.

So I skipped a day of vacation to hoof it down south, buy a car then drive it back to Yosemite, all in one day.  Personally, I find it a little hard to believe Beloved agreed to let me spend more than 27 thousand smackers with only an email from GMAC that they’d buy Sparky back, but okay!

Me in front of the new car at the dealer
At the dealership, after getting up at 2:30 to catch a ride to LA.

I found long distance travel in an electric car easier than I’d anticipated. First, every station was operational, the ultra-fast chargers were plentiful and hell, FREE along the freeway! In all it cost less than ten bucks to drive 300 miles.*

*plus $27,225, as Beloved pointed out upon reading this post…

Blue Bolt plugged into a charger
Fueling Tiff at a rest stop. Clean bathrooms, free fuel. Amazing.

Add to that, while you’re charging, you can leave the motor on… so you’re sitting in air-conditioned bliss despite the punishing heat of the San Joaquin Valley. Try doing that in an ICE (internal combustion engine).

Then came the wait for the dealer to cough up the cash. I gotta say, I was a little nervous as they received the check May 27 but as of June 3, still hadn’t contacted me about collecting it. Ooo boy.

Two Bolts in my driveway
Tiff and Sparky awaiting the trade off.

I was also a little concerned because we’d had the car repaired a couple of years ago – Beloved stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, but infuriatingly, the guy behind her didn’t.  After that the passenger front door didn’t align quite right, and the left back door’s lock didn’t work properly.

Oh, yeah, and the… uh… passenger side mirror had an argument with a trash can and lost.  GM wanted a ridiculous amount to replace then paint it (like $600) but y’know, eBay is a wonderful thing.  I got replacement for a fraction of the cost; only thing was, it had that little light up doodad on it so if you’re changing lanes, it illuminates to let you know there’s someone in the lane.

Only thing was… the car wasn’t equipped for that.  So it had the little useless doodad on the mirror that didn’t work.

So I stood biting my nails as they finally (June 7) inspected the car, thinking crap, I didn’t bring in the cargo cover either.  Daaaaamn.  I wonder how much they’re gonna ding me?

Turned out… nothing.  They handed me the check for $27,410 and we went straight to the credit union to deposit it.  Heh.  

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