GM recalls 1.5 million cars over power steering issue

General Motors is recalling an additional 1.5 million late-model vehicles worldwide, including 145,700 in Canada, because they may experience a sudden loss of electric-power steering assist.

Steering assist may fail and make steering difficult

About 1.3 million more late-model GM cars are to be recalled over issues with steering. (Associated Press)

General Motors is recalling an additional 1.5 million late-model vehicles worldwide, including 145,700 in Canada, because they may experience a sudden loss of electric-power steering assist.

GM issued a press release Monday saying it had notified the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the recall.

If power steering assist is lost, a message displays on the dashboard and a chime sounds to inform the driver. The vehicle will revert to manual steering, which requires greater driver effort, especially at low speeds. There is a risk of accidents.

Models subject to safety recall are:

  • Chevrolet Malibu: All model year 2004 and 2005, and some model year 2006 and model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles.
  • Chevrolet Malibu Maxx: All model year 2004 and 2005, and some 2006 model year.
  • Chevrolet HHR (Non-Turbo): Some model year 2009 and 2010 vehicles.
  • Chevrolet Cobalt: Some model year 2010 vehicles.
  • Saturn Aura: Some model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles.
  • Saturn ION: All model year 2004 to 2007 vehicles.
  • Pontiac G6: All model year 2005, and some model year 2006 and model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles.
  • Service parts installed into certain vehicles before May 31, 2010, under a previous safety recall.

GM is offering to replace free of charge either the power steering motor, the steering column, the power-steering motor control unit or a combination of the steering column and the power-steering motor control unit, depending on the vehicle.

“With these safety recalls and lifetime warranties, we are going after every car that might have this problem, and we are going to make it right,” said Jeff Boyer, vice-president, GM Global Vehicle Safety. “We have recalled some of these vehicles before for the same issue and offered extended warranties on others, but we did not do enough.”

The Cobalt and the Ion, which are also involved in the ignition switch recall, share many common parts. GM recalled Cobalts from the 2005-2010 model years for the power steering defect in 2010, but it's unclear why the company didn't recall the Ion at the same time.

Federal regulators also opened an investigation into power steering complaints in the Ion in 2010, but didn't order a recall.

The recall comes as the biggest North American automaker deals with bad publicity from its ignition switch recall. CEO Mary Barra will testify at a U.S. congressional hearing on Tuesday about the problem and why it went undetected for so long. At least 13 deaths have been linked to ignitions that switch off without warning.

GM expects to take a charge of up to approximately $750 million in the first quarter, primarily for the cost of recall-related repairs announced in the quarter. This amount includes a previously disclosed $300 million charge for three safety actions announced on March 17 and the ignition switch recall announced Feb. 25. 

With files from the Canadian Press

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