Geo was a brand of compact cars that was owned by General Motors. The brand was a subdivision of the General Motors brand Chevrolet, and was active from 1989 through 1997, when it was ultimately discontinued and merged into Chevrolet. The main purpose of this line was to offer consumers economy priced compact sized cars. Geo offered several different models, primarily focused on smaller two and four door vehicles, most often based on Japanese cars and built to either compete with them or to offer an economy priced version of them. Ultimately the brand was discontinued and merged into Chevrolet, however, certain models, such as the Tracker, remain popular among car and off-road excursion enthusiasts. Many of the vehicles received "successors" within the Chevrolet brand, but nowadays, few Geos are seen on the roads.
Issues, Malfunctions And Recalls In Geo Vehicles
Geo has not been actively manufacturing vehicles since 2004, and as such, many known issues are likely to have been resolved, or the vehicles themselves are no longer functioning. For the vehicles of this type that are still functioning, much of the time they end up becoming project cars for enthusiasts. The vehicles themselves were part of the Chevrolet brand, and as such, belonged to the greater General Motors brand. General Motors manufactured the vehicles with other Japanese automakers in joint operations. This meant that these vehicles shared design and parts in common with Suzuki, Isuzu, and Toyota vehicles in addition to General Motors. Many of the recalls and detected malfunctions within the Geo brand occurred within the 1990's, or in a brief period throughout the early 2000's.
In 1997 a recall was issued on the 1997 Geo Prizm for an airbag defect. If the airbag computer detects a sudden non-crash related movement, such as the jerk from releasing a parking brake, or the slam from sliding a front seat back to its stops, it may deploy the airbag. While airbags can save someone in a crash, they can potentially cause an injury to a person if they suddenly activate outside of a crash. The recall affected 17,094 vehicles.
An older issue affected the 1990-1992 Geo Storm models. The steering wheel hub may fracture, which can reduce a driver's ability to control the vehicle, increasing crash risk, and simultaneously decreasing the protection offered by the driver's side airbag. General Motors offered to reinforce the steering wheel hub with a plate to decrease fracture risk. The recall was issued on 211,306 vehicles.
A recall was issued in 1996 affecting the 1993-1995 models of the Geo Prizm due to an issue with the airbag sensor. If liquid were to be spilled on the console box area of the vehicle, there is a chance it may leak onto the airbag sensor, which may trigger an unexpected release of the airbags, whether or not a crash has occurred. This can injure a person, and cause a crash on its own. GM and Toyota offered to replace damaged sensors and to install a protective cover. The recall affected 627,858 vehicles in total.
Engine And Mechanical Issues
In 2010, a recall was issued on the 1989-1997 models of the Geo Prizm for an issue in the vehicle suspension. A manufacturer of the front strut mounts used for aftermarket parts in these vehicles has initiated its own recall, due to potential issues that can cause the strut mount to come out of position while the vehicle is being driven, which can increase the risk of a crash, and damage the components of the vehicle. Owners are urged to contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for instructions on how to obtain replacement and repair. The recall affects 12,657 vehicles in total.
A recall was issued on the 1989-1991 Geo Storm, Tracker, and Metro models in 1995 in response to a potential issue with the seatbelts in the vehicles. The plastic release buttons in the vehicles were prone to breakage, and could potentially lodge shards of plastic in the vehicles, which would result in the ineffectiveness of the seatbelts. Seatbelts are a crucial safety feature in any vehicle, and their ineffectiveness can result in severe injury or even death to drivers and passengers involved in an accident. General Motors urged owners to bring their vehicles to their local dealership for replacement of these parts. There were 466,902 vehicles affected by this recall.
Geo Safety Ratings
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety no longer tracks safety ratings on the models of Geo, as the vehicles have been discontinued. The limited line offered a number of compact cars that were moderately rated for their safety features. Of particular interest was the Geo Metro that received favorable safety rating for its 1995 model. Also of note were the 1991-1993 Geo Tracker models, who were the subject of several reports citing their high fatalities. The Geo Tracker went on to become the Chevrolet Tracker, with slightly improved safety, but was ultimately discontinued in 2004.
While it is likely that a majority of Geo vehicles have been repaired or are now non-functional, it is possible to see them on the road at times. It may be difficult for Geo drivers to obtain the parts for older recalls, and may need to rely on independent repairs. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a Geo defect, contact attorney Jeremy Rosenthal today.