GM recalling 1.3 mln vehicles over steering problems

GM recalling 1.3 mln vehicles over steering problems

Tue Mar 2, 2010 1:28am EST


* Recall covers Chevy, Pontiac cars sold in N.America

* Drivers may be difficult to steer vehicles under 15 mph

* Steering issue linked to 14 crashes, one injury

* Recall follows NHTSA investigation launched in January (Adds more GM exec comments, details)

DETROIT, March 2 (Reuters) – General Motors Co [GM.UL] is recalling 1.3 million compact cars in North America to address a power steering problem that has been linked to 14 crashes and one injury, the company said on Tuesday.

U.S. safety regulators opened an investigation on Jan. 27 into approximately 905,000 Cobalt models in the United States after receiving more than 1,100 complaints of power steering failures. The complaints included 14 crashes and one injury.

The recall covers the 2005-2010 model year Chevrolet Cobalt and 2007-2010 Pontiac G5 in the United States; 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit sold in Canada, and the 2005-2006 Pontiac G4 sold in Mexico, GM said in a statement.

GM said it told the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the voluntary recall on Monday after concluding its own investigation that began in 2009.

GM said the affected vehicles can be still be "safely controlled" but it may require greater steering effort under 15 mph (24 kph). Drivers will see a warning light and hear a chime if the power steering fails.

"After our in-depth investigation, we found that this is a condition that takes time to develop. It tends to occur in older models out of warranty," GM Vice President of Quality Jamie Hresko said in the statement.

"Recalling these vehicles is the right thing to do for our customers’ peace of mind," he said.

GM said it is currently developing a remedy to fix the problem and will notify customers when the plan is finalized.

The recall comes at a time of heighted public and regulatory scrutiny over vehicle safety issues in the wake of massive recalls by Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T).

Toyota global quality control chief Shinichi Sasaki and North American President Yoshimi Inaba are scheduled to appear before a Senate committee on Tuesday for a third hearing on its handling of consumer complaints about sudden acceleration.

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