General Motors has quietly announced a recall of over one million compact cars, as posted in a statement dated March 2nd, 2010 on the GM website. This recall affects the power steering units in the following automobiles:
• 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt
• 2007-2010 Pontiac G5
• 2005-206 Pontiac Pursuit (Canada)
• 2005-2006 Pontiac G4 (Mexico)
The automobiles referencing other countries are the locations where they were sold, not manufactured.
There were 16 complaints on record with the NHTSA for the 2009 Pontiac G5 which included two separate injuries and one reported death. All of the complaints for the 2009 G5 indicated power steering issues that caused the steering to lock up which stopped the driver’s ability to control the vehicle at intermittent and unpredictable times.
Additionally there were 51 complaints on record with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration for the 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt that directly related to the “steering”. Additional complaints were found for other steering related components. One complaint (ODI# 10310842) stated that there were previous reports on the news dating back to June 13th, 2008 about the power steering failure. According to the government agency, just fewer than one million of the automobiles were under investigation since 2009.
If a power steeling pump or control fails and the power steering no longer works it can instantly become very difficult to turn an automobile, particularly at slower speeds. Accidents can become much more likely to occur with intermittent surprises for drivers such as power steering failure. Steering is largely a mechanical device that doesn’t rely as much on electronic controls like the brakes in the Toyota Prius recall.
It has not been announced if the recall will affect other GM brands such as Buick, GMC, Open, Holden and Vauxhall, but it is believed no other cars have the same power steering parts. Vice President of GM’s Quality Assurance, Jamie Hresko, stated “this is a condition that takes time to develop” and that “it tends to occur in older models out of warranty”. Many of the reports on the NHTSA website indicate various mileage occurrence rates from 2,000 to 15,000 miles.
Several GM dealership managers have stated that a check engine or equivalent warning light will come on if there is a problem with the power steering.
The two similar models of Pontiac and Chevrolet compacts appear to share the identical power steering construction using the same parts.
It is not currently known what causes the failure and General Motors has not yet developed a remedy but indicated customers would be notified when the plan is finalized. The recall is not being considered life threatening but you should contact and locate your local GM dealership or manufacturer representative to determine what additional precautions you can take.
“It is never safe to drive or operate a vehicle that poses risk of injury. A power steering failure could cause erratic driving behavior.”, according to Insurance Investigator Phillip Crimaldi at Peak Claims in Denver, CO. “Even if you feel comfortable behind the wheel, an unanticipated movement in traffic could cause another safe driver to over-react, contributing to an accident based on your reaction behind the wheel.”