• Mar 2nd 2010 at 9:49AM
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2010 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE – Click above for high-res image gallery

Communications professionals know that the best time to release bad news about a company is at 5:15 pm on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend. By the time everyone comes back to work the following week, so much other stuff has happened that the story often gets lost in the shuffle. In the auto industry, another good time would be late in the evening just hours before a major overseas auto show while at the same time your biggest competitor is mired in a crisis of its own.

As many of the world's automotive journalists were converging in Switzerland for the Geneva Motor Show late Monday night, General Motors announced it would recall 1.3 million Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s built between 2005 and 2010. GM will replace the motors on their electric power assisted steering (EPAS). Over time the motors can reportedly fail and lead to a loss of steering assist.

When the EPAS fails, the result is similar to a belt breaking on a hydraulic power steering pump. The car is still drivable and controllable, but the steering effort at low speeds rises significantly, making it difficult to maneuver at parking lot speeds. At higher speeds, relatively little steering assist is needed and drivers should be able to make it safely to the side of the road if the warning lamp comes on.

  • 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE Sedan. X10CH_CB003 (United States)
  • 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE Sedan. X10CH_CB004 (United States)
  • 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE Sedan. X10CH_CB005 (United States)
  • 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE Sedan. X10CH_CB006 (United States)
  • 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE Sedan. X10CH_CB007 (United States)
  • 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE Sedan. X10CH_CB008 (United States)
  • 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE Sedan. X10CH_CB009 (United States)
  • 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE Badging on rear decklid. X10CH_CB010 (United States)

[Source: General Motors]
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GM Recalls Compact Cars to Fix Power Steering Assist

Safety Recall Covers 1.3 Million Chevrolet and Pontiac Models

DETROIT -- General Motors will conduct a safety recall of 1.3 million compact cars to replace a motor in the power steering system. Vehicles affected are the 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt; 2007-2010 Pontiac G5; 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit sold in Canada, and the 2005-2006 Pontiac G4 sold in Mexico.

GM told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the voluntary recall on Monday after concluding an investigation that began in 2009. NHTSA opened an investigation Jan. 27 into approximately 905,000 Cobalt models in the United States after receiving more than 1,100 complaints of loss of power steering assist, 14 crashes and one injury.

"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," said Jamie Hresko, GM Vice President of Quality. "Recalling these vehicles is the right thing to do for our customers' peace of mind.

"While greater steering effort under 15 mph may be required, if the customer experiences loss of power steering assist, it is important to note that the vehicle can still be safely controlled because the customer can still steer the vehicle," Hresko said. "When the condition occurs, both a chime will sound and a 'Power Steering' message will be displayed."

Plans for the remedy are being developed. Customers will be notified when the plan is finalized.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Then if that's the case, I would like to know GM's reasoning for not including the Ion.

      After looking at saturnforums, seems like it's not an isolated problem to just you. But what's interesting is these problems seem to be happening at higher speeds than what is mentioned for the recalled vehicles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yet another reply fail.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What about the 04 to 07 chevy malibus?? There have been hundreds of reports of the power steering going out these car too.....including mine!!! I love how you go to the dealer to get it fixed and they act like they don't know what your talking about.....they know all about it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In 2000 I bought an Astra here in Mexico, it was imported from the Vauxhall plant in Belgium and rebranded and sold here as Chevrolet. It had the same problem after 40,000 kms. The service at the dealer told me it had never happened before and that they even knew the procedure for removign the unit and repair it. I bought the Haynes manual for the car and took down the unit, repair it and put it back again. After fixing it I took the car to the dealer and show it to the manager in charge. That same day the Service Manager for GM Mexico was there and he was even angry when I told him what happened and said they didnt had any registers about that failure and maybe it was something like one in a million.

      A few years later the same car was rebranded Cobalt and sold in USA. Seems that no one reported the possible problem! No more GM´s for me since the time I sold that Astra.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is this car being recalled for being a piece of crap? If so, that's not fixable.

      Maybe if they rebadge it a "Cruze", the sheeple will forget?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good thing the Congress is still giving Toyota a good drilling.

      This recall will largely go unnoticed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Before you rejoice too much, wait.....

      The same part which have failed is used on...............drum roll.......................

      Toyota Corolla!

      Part is beeing produced in a Toyota owned facility.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I heard it was wiring that can fray and cause shorts in the system.

      I still think the Cobalt SS turbo is the best bang for the buck. Put a chip in it and you have 290hp and 330lb-ft of torque.

      Nice. Too bad they won't make a Cruze SS two-door.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I will tell you that GM is not as concerned for there consumers as the claim to be in the media. I had my power steering unit go out on Feb 25, 2010. I had it replaced because I needed my car to get back and forth to work. After doing some research on the internet about my car, I found out that the power steering unit I had just paid $400 to have replace was under investigation for defect. I called the dealearship to inquire about the information I had read and was told that the information was false. Well 3 days later it was announced on the news that the part was in fact faulty and being recalled. I have been on the phone just about everyday with GM and all I get is the runaround regarding being reimbursed for my repair. Don’t believe the hype about their concerns for their consumers. They appear not to care about me at all. I would like to tell any one, if you can wait it out without causing yourself injury, don’t fix the car yourself. You will definitely get screwed!!!!!

      • 5 Years Ago
      Recalls are the hot subject these days.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if this is the same problem Corolla owners are complaining about.

      "After addressing the issues related to floor mats, accelerator pedals and braking systems, Toyota could be under fire for a new problem: steering.

      The National Highway Safety Administration is considering a more formal probe into the problems reported by owners with steering on 2009-2010 Toyota Corolla sedans. The Corolla is one of the most popular sedans in America. In December, the last full month of Corolla sales prior to Toyota's recall of accelerator pedals in January, Toyota sold 34,220 Corollas in the U.S.

      NHTSA's Karen Aldana told AOL Autos this morning that the company is reviewing Corolla complaints just as they investigate problems of other makes and models.

      "We are reviewing steering complaints with the Corolla to determine if a safety defect investigation is warranted, as is standard procedure with all complaints," Aldana told us in an email this morning.

      Automotive News reports that the Corolla's steering problem -- which is best described a "unintended veering" -- raised 83 complaints since April of 2008. The news report said that 76 of those incidents took place over 40 mph, with the cars inadvertently veering to the right or left.

      In total, ten injuries from six accidents have been reported.

      In complaints filed with NHTSA, owner stories of the events ranged from mild to terrifying.

      "2009 Toyota Corolla EPS (electronic power steering) causes the car to wander at speeds higher than 50 mph," wrote one Toyota Corolla driver on June 18, 2009. "This makes for very dangerous driving conditions. Toyota needs to address the issue and do a recall to fix the problem."

      Another complaint drove home how frightening the issue could be.

      "This was the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me in my life as well as my grandchildren!" wrote one North Carolina resident in a complaint registered on September 11, 2009.

      While Toyota has not provided an official comment on complaints, some owners who filed complaints provided their own reasoning for why the car might pull to the left or the right.

      "[I] notice the steering wheel sometimes pulses only when my cell phone is...docked to the right of the steering wheel," wrote one Corolla driver in an official complaint on June 26, 2009. "It's strange I can sometimes tell if my Blackberry is going to ring or get an email. The steering wheel seems to shake or try to steer on its own. This is similar to my other 2009 Toyota Corolla that I resold to the dealer. I wonder if more shielding is needed to reduce any interference."

      NHTSA said through a spokesperson that they will continue to monitor the complaints and will consider a formal investigation."
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Corolla's problem is called "sh!tty on-center feel." Not sure why these "terrified" owners didn't notice the car had crap steering on the initial test-drive, assuming they took one. It's obnoxious--not dangerous.

        The Cobalt's problem is actually losing assist. That wouldn't cause "veering," it would cause drastically increased steering effort when the driver turns the wheel. Again, not dangerous, but in that case, there's an actual malfunction taking place.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Doesn't seem to be. GM's problems are unresponsive power steering at under 15mph. Toyota's seem to be unintended steer at higher speeds.

        Of course we won't know the cause just yet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have a 2006 Saturn Ion. The same thing has happened to my car, and according to the dealership, it is the same problem as the Cobalt. However, there are no recalls on the Saturns! Therefore, I have to pay to have mine repaired.

      It seems that if you are going to recall a few models for this defect, then you would recall all of the vehicles that use this same motor.

      Just my thoughts...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I have contacted GM. Of course, they forward my call to Saturn. Saturn keeps telling me that the recall does not affect my car. Duh, That's the problem!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Per my mechanic, they are exactly the same. You can use the same steering column and electric power assist in any of those vehicles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I totally agree with you. Just couple months ago my girlfriends Saturn Ion lost power steering while going 65mph on the expressway. She barely avoided getting in the accident and was able to pull over. At the dealership they told us that it happens all the time to Ion and Cobalt models, before charging us ungodly amount of money to fix it (we needed that car for her to go to work every day, so there was no option of waiting around to look for cheaper parts on internet)
        Any GM executive is full of BS when saying that car is still drivable at that point. I'm 6'2", 190lbs and work out every day, and I would never drive it like that, let alone my girlfriend that is less than 100lbs. For her that steering wheel might as well be stuck in a straight position. GM need to recall Ion's or I see class action lawsuit forming fast, as they already admitted that same power steering units are prone to failure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If gm isn't careful they'll be the next Toyota


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