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What to do if you own a GM car

GM is facing bankruptcy. If there's a GM car parked in your driveway, what do you have to be worried about?

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By Gerri Willis, CNN personal finance editor

For more information on managing your largest investment, check out Gerri Willis' 'Home Rich,' now in bookstores.
GM's junk heap
Over its history General Motors has made its share of bad products. Some were poorly built, some were badly executed, others suffered from lousy timing.

NEW YORK ( -- Here's the lowdown.

The takeaway here is don't panic. And even if GM is in bankruptcy, the company will continue to operate. Cars will still be sold, you will still be able to get parts and service. If you own a GM car, life won't change too drastically. The government has already stepped in and said it would guarantee warranties from companies in bankruptcy during the restructuring period. And GM has said it will honor warranties if it goes into bankruptcy

If you own a Saturn, a Saab or a Hummer, car models that GM is trying to sell, the new owner will probably take over the warranties. The contract isn't usually changed according to Consumer Reports. But going forward there may be modifications to the warranties on these cars.

If you bought a dealer-specific warranty instead of a factory warranty for your GM car, your risk is bigger because dealers go out of business more easily. But experts say there's little chance that GM will liquidate.

Let's take a look at the possible impact of a GM bankruptcy.

  • Your dealership may close -- Over 1,500 dealerships will close. This is more of a convenience issue, but if you're used to going to a specific dealership, you may have to go somewhere else. And it may take longer to get your car serviced. But these closings won't happen for at least a year, so you can plan ahead.
  • Some parts may be harder to find -- Specific factory parts for certain models may be harder to find because auto-parts makers aren't seeing the same demand and they're having their own financial problems. But routine items like brake pads should still be available.
  • Car depreciation is faster -- A new car depreciates 20% once you drive it off the lot, but a car from a troubled company like GM may depreciate as much as 30% according to So, if you like to trade in your GM car every few years, you should note the risk you're taking.

If you're in the market for a car, a majority of GM models have great incentives and you don't have to worry about warranties. But make sure you buy a manufacturer-backed extended warranty from the automaker -- not the dealer's and drive the car "until the wheels fall off."

And finally, make sure you do your homework. Consumer Reports recommends eight GM cars out of the 41 GM models that were tested. But compare that with Chrysler recommendations (zero). Ford, in case you were wondering, has 16 recommended vehicles out of 23.

Got a financial dilemma? Go to to submit questions, read the Help Desk articles and check out new Help Desk videos. And tune in to CNN's Newsroom Tuesdays and Fridays, when Gerri Willis and other experts answer your questions. To top of page

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