Yesterday I (Finally) Became an Adult

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2009 Saturn AURA Hybrid

2009 Saturn AURA Hybrid

Yesterday was a milestone in my life. At the tender age of 40 I finally feel as though I became an adult. Sure, I’ve traveled cross-country by myself and into Kabul, Afghanistan, without the group.

I’ve received the sacrament of Confirmation by the Catholic Church in my teen years and managed the front desk of Yellowstone National Park’s largest lodge (Canyon, not Old Faithful). I’ve also been been married and had to deal with the ex’s death and the legal and financial mumbo jumbo that followed.

No. None of these have made me feel more than an adult than my experience yesterday – that of dealing with having my car towed.Voluntary Emission Recall of 2009 Saturn AURA  Hybrid

It began more than a month ago when I received a letter from the director of customer and relationship services of Saturn informing me of a “voluntary” recall on my 2009 Saturn AURA hybrid. The letter states:

Reason for this Recall: General Motors has decided to conduct a Voluntary Emission Recall involving certain 2009 model year Saturn AURA hybrid vehicles. The hybrid function on these vehicles may become inoperative. If this occurs, a “Check Engine Light” will illuminate in the instrument panel and/or a “Service Hybrid” message will illuminate in the Driver Information Center, the engine will run in the gasoline engine mode, and fuel economy would be reduced.

Notice the word “voluntary” in there?

Your GM dealer will replace the hybrid batteries and reprogram the engine control module.

Same day I received the letter, my car hit 10,000 miles and the “Service Hybrid” message appeared. I contacted my regular GM service center about getting this taken care of but didn’t hear back so a week later I contacted a GM dealer closer to home. That was about a month ago. I was told the vehicle was still okay to drive it just may not have the fuel efficiency due to the battery issue.

Earlier this week I contacted the dealer for an update. They assured they haven’t forgotten me but said the part was on back order due to the recall.

Thursday, my battery light came on but didn’t think much of it. Car’s batteries are suppose to charge when running, right?

Danger, Danger!
Driving home from work that night the air conditioning was the first to go followed by the cruise control and with less than a half mile to my apartment, the power steering disappeared and every single light on the dashboard lit up. The car was flashing words like traction, brake, and steering. I swear at one point it flashed, “danger, danger.” When I saw the red exclamation point flash, I knew this was not good. (The exclamation point indicates trouble with the brake.)

Someone’s watching over me, this I know, because I was able to get the car to my driveway where it completely gave out. I tried starting it again and although it tried with a little “rrrr,rrrr” (yes, I mimicked that sound for the car dealer) and the lights flickered, no luck.

Calls to OnStar were involved regarding its diagnostics service but it’s not relevant to this post. Anyway…

Next day I tried to start her up. Nope.

*sigh*

Feeling Like an Adult
I called the dealer and explained what happened. He said the needed battery pack for the “voluntary” recall was on back order but to bring it in to see if there’s something else wrong with it.

AAA sent the wrecker pretty quick. Loading up my baby. on Twitpic

AAA Towing my Saturn AURA Hybrid

Next, it was calling AAA to use one of my four free tows. Yeah, GM’s Roadside Assistance could have been used but I’ve been a AAA member for about 20 years and have never used them to call a tow truck.

So, “Big Poppa” showed up (note to AAA: he was wearing his AAA-issued green coat, it was a typical Florida morning meaning hot and sticky so he took it off to get the work done) and hooked me. Yeah, rather than learning German with Rosetta Stone (as I have started and should be continuing) I learned some tow truck driver lingo yesterday.

The dealer set me up with a rental saying the car will probably be ready in the day.

Seriously?

At 4:30 p.m. I called the dealer for a status. Bottom line, it’s not working because of the same reason for the “voluntary” recall. Since the battery pack is on back order, their supplier is expected to receive it the end of next week which means they will get the middle of the following week and my car SHOULD be done in about two weeks.

Two weeks!

I’m happy to have it fixed but I’m already missing my OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation System and XM Radio.

Being single and not having family in the area, I was concerned how I would get from point A to point B. Community leaders don’t believe in public transportation (let me clarify, they think having a service where you need to call 24 hours in advance is acceptable) and I was ready to ride my bike to work. Riding in the wrecker was the easy solution. In a silly way, I feel as though I accomplished a simple task of becoming an adult.

Riddle Me this, GM
I now have a question for General Motors. How can you have a “voluntary” recall on something that causes the car to be inoperable?

Have you had a problem with your Saturn AURA Hybrid’s batteries?

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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2 Comments

  1. Last week the alarm sounds on my 2007 Saturn Aura started ringing, a yellow check engine light flashed, and service hybrid flashed across the dashboard. I took it to get serviced, and apparently there was an open recall, which I was not notified of. When the service guy went to order the part it was “restricted.” After a call to GM, the part was then simply backordered. I called Saturn to ask why the recall notice was not sent and they said it was “lost in the mail.” Upon further research, GM sent a memo to all dealers that they were not sending any more recall notices out and not to fix the recall unless there is a problem with the car, and then the people can go on a six week wait list for the hybrid battery. I have been told over and over that the car is safe to drive, only the hybrid won’t work. After reading your story, I am not so sure.

  2. Hi Kathleen.

    Yowza! I’d definitely get the issue fixed. It took 15 days (I finally got my car back last Friday) for my dealer to get the part – which was already on backorder for 4 weeks. The hybrid function is a huge reason why many of us purchased the car – even if the car is safe to drive – it should still be fixed. Did they order the part for you??? Is your check engine light gone? It sounds similar to my situation but the service hybrid light was on about a month, then when the check engine light came on it was down hill from there. Hope yours doesn’t end up breaking down like mine!

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