General Motors has devised a third option to deal with issues and glitches on its vehicles that might lead to recalls or even vehicular accidents. Typically, a defect or glitch in a vehicle found when it was brought into a dealership could either lead to a recall or the carmaker could just disregard what was discovered.
The first option would have GM incur expenses in trying to fix the defect and have thousands of owners inconvenienced for a few days or even a week. The second option would have led to accidents, fatal or non-fatal. When a 2012 Chevrolet Volt was brought in for a warranty repair in Europe, an engineer discovered a faulty brake valve.
GM employed a third option -- assigning an engineer to look into a database that tracks the parts used in its cars, and it collected manufacturing records from the supplier -- in this instance, TRW Automotive.
Within a month, the carmaker was able to identify all the vehicles in the US with the faulty valve, called their owners and sent a formal notice to the US government.
Due to GM's prompt action, it only had to recall four vehicles. According to Maureen Foley-Gardner, director of field performance evaluation at GM, the carmaker has used its database for around 20% of field actions in 2013, and watched as the average action has declined by 40%. He remarked that the third option is having an impact. [source: automotive news - sub. required]