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GM recalls 1.3 million Cobalts, G5s for power steering problem

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.

[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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