Family steered in dangerous direction due to GM defect

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Audrey and Jeremy Crook would never consider putting their children in a car that isn't safe, but that's what they say General Motors expects them to do.

The couple's 2006 Pontiac has been recalled twice. The most serious problem is a sudden loss of power steering, a problem they have experienced first-hand. Twice.

Jeremy Crook was driving down a county road near Leavenworth when he said the car lost power steering and jerked into oncoming traffic. He fought to get back into his own lane. Audrey was headed to lunch, when it happened to her.

"I was pulling into a parking lot," she said. "I almost hit a car because I could not turn it at all."

That's when they stopped driving the Pontiac completely, forcing them to borrow cars from family members to get around. They'd like to get their Pontiac fixed, but GM has yet to manufacture the necessary part, although the recall was announced in April.

In some recalls, GM has authorized loaner cars. So the Crooks asked the GM dealership in Leavenworth to provide them with one. The dealership refused and referred them to GM. When they called GM's corporate office asking what they were supposed to do, GM told them they would have to wait until a new part is available. There were no promises on when that would be.

Kansas City attorney Bernard Brown said the Crooks' situation is "a poster child case" and GM should take notice.
Brown said GM is lucky the Crooks didn't have serious accidents when they first noticed the problem. He said legally it's clear that GM and the dealership that sold them the car are responsible to provide the Crooks with safe transportation.

"The answer is simple," Brown said. "They need to pay the bill and provide loaners and if loaners won't do it provide rental cars."

Since no one has, the Crooks called Fox 4 Problem Solvers. We called the dealership, which told us that it couldn't afford to supply rental cars to every person with a recalled GM car, which now number in the tens of millions nationwide.

We then called GM, which promised to look into the problem, but didn't offer us much hope. So we reached out to Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, someone with enough political clout to put heat on GM to do the right thing. That very day, we got good news.

After talking to a representative from Sen. Moran's office, GM decided to foot the bill and replace the power steering system in the Crooks' car. The replacement part will be a stop-gap measure until a new "defect-free" part has been manufactured.

It will, however, allow the Crooks and their two young children to drive their Pontiac without fearing for their safety.