Sarah Sell, WZZM, WZZM
HOLLAND, MICH. - There's been no recall, but drivers of several large SUV's say their GM vehicles are making them sick.
The complaints have been acknowledged by the automaker -- a Holland-area family says there is no solution to the problem. That family contacted WZZM 13 On Your Side for help.
"I had vertigo, nausea, migraine, the whole way down, the whole way back from Florida…part of it would be a constant pressure on your ears… it's just miserable”, says Barb Francis.
It all started back in November 2014 when she and her husband paid just more $60,000 for a new 2015 Suburban at DeNooyer Chevrolet in Holland.
“We love the car; we still love the car," Francis said. "But when you get in, it's like your ears start to hurt after a while."
The couple says it got worse after they took their grandchildren on a trip to Florida. Francis and her granddaughter got sick.
"If she's not in that suburban, she doesn’t get sick," Francis said.
They brushed it off at first but the next time they went on a long trip, her husband got sick.
"And he does not get sick, does not have that kind of thing," Francis said. "He had vertigo, nausea, headaches. This is weird."
It was then that the Francis' searched the words "GM SUV making me sick." Several news articles popped up.
13 On Your Side discovered numerous complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in both 2015 and 2016. They included remarks like “Severe Headaches," "Experiencing pressure in my ears" and "makes me nauseous and dizzy."
WZZM 13 Watchdog reporter Sarah Sell and investigative producer Emma Nicolas took the Suburban for a test drive. With cameras inside to capture all the details, a microphone picked up what many described as that buffeting noise, almost like a window is partly rolled down.
"Midway through I started to get a pressure headache," Nicolas said. "I didn't have anything with my ears. My ears weren't bugging me. It was my head."
The Francis’ have taken the suburban back to DeNooyer, and they made several attempts to fix it.
"They did the headliner, they changed the noise cancelling system, they drove it for 37 days, and put 720 miles on it," Francis said. "There is major money into this and it's still not fixed."
Sales manager Dominique DeNooyer says they tried to work with the Francis’ on a solution.
"It puts us in the middle because we value the customer and our partnership with the manufacturer," he said. "Our hands are tied."
DeNooyer says the dealership did offer the Francis’ a similar vehicle, but they declined. Francis and her husband are paying more than $700 a month for the vehicle. At this point, they just want out of the lease.
Denooyer says it's not that simple: “So, the lien is with the bank and as far as absolving the lease, we don't have the ability because we don't own that contract."
The Francis have now hired a lemon law attorney. Several months later, they are still in negotiations. GM declined to do an interview and sent us this statement:
"GM is aware of customers' concerns regarding a buffeting noise in certain previous model year full-size GM utility vehicles. GM does not believe this is a safety issue." The company went on to say, “If someone has a similar problem, they should take it to their GM dealer for potential repair under warranty.”
"We just want to be done with it. Take it back. Nobody wants to drive it. We're not driving it," Francis said. With the help of their attorney, they are working with GM on a settlement to buy back the vehicle. In the meantime, they continue making lease payments and the Suburban sits in the driveway.
GM will not say whether the problem has been fixed in later models.
© 2017 WZZM-TV