Seven months ago, as he was driving home from a Christmas Eve party with his wife and three small kids, Corey Morris was stunned to see the check engine light come on.
At that point, Morris had owned his shiny new 2022 Chevy Suburban SUV for less than six months.
Morris — driving with “butterflies” in his stomach — got his family home safely on that wintry night. But he was annoyed, after paying $75,000 for his vehicle.
Now, with the issue still unresolved months later, he faces the real possibility that he won’t be able to drive it at all because his car can’t pass inspection with the check engine light on.
After the light came on in December, Morris took his SUV back to MacMulkin Chevy in Nashua, N.H. But MacMulkin told him it could do nothing until it heard from GM on how to fix the problem. He waited for months, calling the dealership constantly for updates. (Chevrolet is a subsidiary of GM.)
When Morris later contacted GM directly, it was no better. They were working on it, GM told him. We’ll get back to you.
When he brought his car in for inspection in June it was rejected, because the check engine light was on. They slapped a rejection sticker on his windshield and he was given 60 days to resolve the problem. Now, the 60 days are about up and the light is still on.
Unless he can somehow get an inspection waiver or a fix, Morris’s expensive new SUV will soon be sitting idle in his driveway.
“It’s an unbelievable situation,” said Morris, 41, an engineer who lives in North Reading. “For seven-plus months I’ve been begging for help. But the dealership blamed GM, and GM has been of no help.”
As Morris wrote in one of his many emails to GM, “this situation is seriously impacting my life. It is impacting my stress levels, my sleep and all the hours of effort I am having to put into a situation that is not my fault.”
Here’s what happened:
After his Christmas Eve fright, Morris expected a quick fix at the dealership. But when he picked up his SUV, a MacMulkin service manager handed him a copy of a bulletin issued by GM to all dealerships saying there was currently no fix for the known problem with the check engine light.
The bulletin, which was issued five months earlier, said the problem was apparently related to the engine oil pressure sensor. As to cause, it said: “not known at this time.” It was “currently under investigation.”
Morris said he wasn’t told explicitly that it was OK to continue driving the SUV, but he was informed by MacMulkin that other customers in similar circumstances had driven their vehicles without damaging them. When the light is blinking, that’s a different story, he was told. Then it’s not OK to drive.
Morris said MacMulkin told him to check in with the service department every two weeks to see if GM had come up with a fix. He did, but every time he got the same reply: no fix.
Finally, after five months of checking in by phone, Morris showed up at the dealership frustrated and angry. His original inspection sticker, obtained shortly after he purchased the vehicle back in June 2022, was about to expire. The dealership said it would check with GM.
A couple days later, Morris asked for an update. “At this time we do not have an answer for you,” a MacMulkin manager replied in an email. “I would suggest going to your inspection station and at least getting a rejection sticker if it does not pass the emissions part.”
“I understand your frustration that this has been going on way too long,” the manager wrote.
When I called MacMulkin, I got the same story: We’re waiting for GM. “It’s out of our hands,” one of the managers told me.
Morris called GM’s customer service line and wound up exchanging telephone calls and emails first with “Heidi” and then with “Justin” for the next couple of weeks. Copies of those emails show Morris provided a detailed description of his travails.
“I really pray that you can help me and that GM can make this right,” Morris wrote at one point. “The situation I am in is unacceptable.”
The reply: “Your concern is extremely important to us at Chevrolet, and to me specifically.”
At some point, Heidi told Morris to contact the state Registry of Motor Vehicles to see if it would issue an inspection sticker if GM provided a letter describing the problem, Morris said.
”As far as the next step, if you are unable to pass the Massachusetts inspection you’ll have to follow the Massachusetts rejection sticker process,” she wrote.
I wrote an email to GM on behalf of Morris, and one day later, Morris got a call from “Charlie,” who said he was with “executive customer care.”
Charlie mentioned that GM had been contacted by the Boston Globe and “that’s what got me involved.”
Two days later, Charlie called to say Morris’s SUV may need a new oil pump.
Next week, Morris plans to replace the oil pump at Liberty Chevrolet in Wakefield. (He says he’s done with MacMulkin.) He said he’s wary that his ordeal is truly coming to an end.
In two emails to GM, I asked a ton of questions, including whether other customers were facing similar check engine light problems. GM answered none of them.
GM’s response was a one-sentence statement: “GM is aware of concerns raised by Mr. Morris about his Chevrolet Suburban, and our Customer Assistance team will continue to work with him directly to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”
Mind you, GM is a $50 billion corporation with $150 billion in annual revenue. You would think it could do better by a customer who had shelled out big bucks for one of its most profitable vehicles.