The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has closed its investigation into faulty electric power steering motors affecting 334,728 Saturn Ions from 2004-2007, because General Motors has issued a recall for them. The group's research found that the part failed at a high rate in the vehicles.

GM recalled over 1.3 million vehicles a few weeks ago, including the Ion, because the power steering could suddenly fail. If broken, the cars could still turn, but it took greater effort. The automaker is also covering 96,324 2003 Ions with a lifetime warranty for their motors, but it's not immediately replacing them.

NHTSA opened its investigation into the motors in September 2011, and it found 4,787 complaints and 30,560 warranty claims that showed failure for the Ion alone. It estimated a complaint rate of 14.3 incidents per 1,000 vehicles and warranty claim rate of 9.1 percent. The investigation also found evidence of 12 crashes caused by loss of steering, two of which resulted in injuries.

According to The Detroit News, the Ion wasn't initially going to be included in the recall. During the House's hearing into GM's ignition switch recall, it presented an email from October 2011 to Mary Barra that notified her of the bad steering motors and said the "Ion data did not justify being included" in the recall. At some point, the automaker apparently changed its decision. NHTSA's investigation report can be downloaded as a PDF.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      Alfonso T. Alvarez
      • 8 Months Ago
      It has the same electric power steering unit as several Japanese vehicles of the same vintage that are also suffering the same failure rate - where is the coverage of those? The supplier is JTEKT, partially owned by Toyota.
        Bruce Lee
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        Which car has a failure rate of over 30,000 warranty claims within the warranty period out of 330,000 cars?!
        Bruce Lee
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        Also this article is *NOT* correct, GM does not yet know why the power steering fails. The motor is one component under investigation but if you actually bothered to read what the government report and GM have said the problem seems to be that power is getting cut to the motor and/or it's going into failsafe mode. They're not sure if this is because of the motor itself or something connected to the motor, so trying to pin this on JTEKT before they actually figure out why the steering is failing is pathetic GM fanboyism. Here's the actual text from the report: "Sudden loss of power steering assist can occur in the subject vehicles if the system loses electrical power or whenever the system detects a fault that requires it to enter fail-safe operation mode, removing power from the EPS motor. GM’s DIR identifies three basic conditions that may result in loss of power steering assist in the recalled vehicles: power steering motor faults, torque sensor assembly faults, and power steering motor controller unit faults. " So both you and Autoblog completely fail in reading comprehension. All this mean is that GM has to recall these cars-GM still doesn't know why it's failing so both Autoblog and you are incorrect in trying to pin it on the motor-the motors are losing power for some reason-the motor unit itself isn't just failing out of the blue.
          tiger
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Bruce Lee
          Bruce, Autoblog (not sure why I still come here) is in such a hurry to report on GM recalls and investigations, that they do not take the time to understand the full story. They are miserable failures at reporting and journalism. Like I said, not sure why I come here. I guess for the laugh. Autoblog is getting as bad as Jalopnik is - or was, I refuse to go to Jalopnik - haven't been to their site in over 5 years.
          carguy1701
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Bruce Lee
          How is Jalopnik bad? At least they don't have Honda shills ruining the commenting section.
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Bruce Lee
          [blocked]
      churchmotor
      • 8 Months Ago
      Good thing for GM, No Saturns are still on the road as they are all in the Junk yard.
        • 8 Months Ago
        @churchmotor
        [blocked]
        • 8 Months Ago
        @churchmotor
        [blocked]
          churchmotor
          • 8 Months Ago
          LOL at yonomo200
          • 8 Months Ago
          [blocked]
      Bruce Lee
      • 8 Months Ago
      30,000+ warranty claims out of 334000 vehicles? How many of these then failed out of warranty?! That's a HORRIBLE failure rate in just the first few years while still under warranty.