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Old 01-01-2012, 09:26 PM   #1
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HHR Door Handle and other quality issues

HHR owners. Are you having good luck with your car? Here is a tale that might help you.

I just had the second $400 surprise in less than a year. The inside driver's door handle suddenly flopped uselessly back and forth, and having to lower the window to reach out to open my door via the outside handle was not fun. So the shop calls me to say that the handle, which is all plastic, is broken inside the panel, and they could try to glue it together but could not be sure it would be strong enough to last. The handle itself cannot be replaced (they said). The replacement assembly from GM is--get this-- the entire interior door panel to which the handle assembly is ingeniously(?) attached as an integral part at $315 + tax + labor= $387.

So I pay for the supposedly better option and get my old door panel to take home and play with. I would love to whack the fingers of that crack GM engineer who designed the handle, in plastic, with a weak cross section at the pivot point, and then had it all be an integral part with the door panel.

Studying the handle, I was able to remove it from its panel sub-assembly in 2 minutes, although I did break the plastic pivot pin in the process. I studied the broken bits, did some filing and grinding to remove the chrome plating around the break, and epoxied the two pieces back together along with a screw through the narrowest part epoxied in place. When the glue is hard, I will go back and add some reinforcement and more epoxy. I can reassemble it using a long thin bolt as the pivot shaft. I think this will be my replacement waiting in the wings if the new handle gives up the same way.

I wish I had gone to the shop to look at the part first. Maybe I could have saved myself some money. Considering how the handles are built, I would bet this is not an uncommon issue, and maybe on other cars as well?

The other surprise was a pin in the shifter link. The button on top of the shift knob would not move. I could still shift, but I couldn't turn the key full off or remove the key. That was over $400 to fix.

The HHR is a nice little car and great toad, but it's kinda costly to maintain.
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Old 01-02-2012, 05:13 AM   #2
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Sorry for you, but no issues with our 09 so far.
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Old 01-02-2012, 06:51 AM   #3
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I have an 07 ( bought used) a year or so ago. and the only thing so far is my cig lighter fell out (retaining clip) I guess. So far since I don't smoke I just use the rear one. I will fix it soon though.

I have heard of the broken handle so I use mine very gingerly.
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Old 01-02-2012, 08:23 AM   #4
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The door handle design is part of GM's Accident Safety System (acronym = ASS).
If you can't get into the car, you won't have an accident.
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Old 01-02-2012, 09:48 AM   #5
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Angry

Quote:
Originally Posted by rmmpe View Post
If you can't get into the car, you won't have an accident.
Getting in was no problem. Getting out was the trick.
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Old 12-18-2012, 02:29 PM   #6
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HHR Interior door handle breaks off

I contacted the Kansas Attorney General's office and filed a complaint asking that Chevrolet be compelled to recall the vehicles and fix them with door handles that will not snap off. Here is the text of what I sent. Copy this text and make a similar complaint with your state and maybe we can get these cars recalled and fixed:

I purchased a 2011 HHR used from Carmax in November. Within a month as I attempted to exit the vehicle the inside driver's door handle snapped off and broke. I got on the internet and started investigating what it is going to take to fix the door handle and it was in the course of this inquiry that I found out this is a chronic problem with the HHR going back to at least 2006. The cost of fixing the handle at the dealer is about $500 because Chevrolet's fix is to replace the entire inner door panel. I did find an OEM solution for $85 but that is not what this is all about.

Not being able to exit the vehicle in an emergency constitutes a public safety issue. If the car were involved in an accident and the passengers needed to exit the vehicle immediately they may not be able to if the door handle breaks off. It is my opinion that this issue represents a clear and present danger to consumers. Several scenarios come to mind: 1) the vehicle becomes disabled on railroad tracks with an oncoming train, 2) the vehicle is involved in an accident and the vehicle is on fire or 3) the vehicle drives off the road into a body of water. All of these very common scenarios could lead to an unnecessary death of one or more occupants.

It is my opinion that the Attorney General should compel Chevrolet to recall these vehicles and replace the inside door handles with devices that will not fail.

I have provided a few links here that are representative of what I found out while searching the internet:

HHR Door Handle and other quality issues
Chevy HHR Interior Problems - Car Forums - Edmunds
Maybe Chevy HHR should stand for How 'bout Having a Recall - LawyersAndSettlements.com | LawyersandSettlements.com Legal Blog
Defected 2006 HHR Door Handle | Chevrolet Safety | PlanetFeedback
Chevrolet - broken interior door handle on hhr requires new panel
Chevrolet HHR interior door handle

As you can see from some of these posts I am not the only person who considers this a safety issue. I do not expect a car to be designed to perfection - there will be problems but some issues are completely unacceptable and I feel being trapped in the car is one of them. Repairing the handle is not enough - the issue must be addressed so the handles do not break off
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Old 12-18-2012, 09:34 PM   #7
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Howard, thanks for the update. I think I will make some noise. Some things should not be made of plastic, especially when safety is involved.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:48 AM   #8
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HHR interior door handles breaking

What state do you plan to make your complaint with? I think I will keep a list here at my end. Also; please make a complaint with the Dept. of Transportation at 888-327-4236. They will take your complaint over the phone and it only takes about 10 minutes. Tell them you want to make a complaint that will lead to an investigation that will force Chevrolet to recall the vehicles and fix them. Thanks.
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