General Motors has issued a recall for 1.3 million Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac vehicles sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into more than 1,000 consumer complaints of the power steering suddenly ceasing to work on some vehicles. Among the reports of steering problems linked to vehicles were at least 14 car crashes.
The GM recall, issued on March 2, includes the 2005-2010 model year Chevrolet Cobalt, the 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, the 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit, and the 2005-2006 G4. The Pursuit is sold in Canada and the G4 is sold in Mexico. GM said it has been investigating the problem since 2009, and determined that in rare cases, the power steering motor on the vehicles can die and cause difficulty steering at speeds under 15 m.p.h.
GM officials say once the motors fail, the car can still be driven to dealers to have the motor replaced. When the defective power steering motors fail, drivers will see a “Power Steering” warning indicator and hear a chime alarm. However, officials say that the power steering can sometimes come back temporarily after the car is shut off and restarted.
The company said it will take some time for parts suppliers to provide new power steering motors to replace those affected by the recall. However, the company said that the vehicles can still be safely controlled when the problem arises.
“After our in-depth investigation, we found that this is a condition that takes time to develop,” said GM’s vice president of quality, Jamie Hresko in a GM press release. “It tends to occur in older models out of warranty.”
GM officials say that as the replacement power steering motors come in, they will target older vehicles first, since the problem does not appear to occur until the vehicles have 20,000 to 30,000 miles on them. The company will also have to repair thousands of cars still in dealer inventories across North America.
The company says that customers will be notified when plans for replacing the motors are finalized.