GM recall: What to do if your Chevy or Pontiac is on the list?

As posted on March 2, 2010 on

By Laurent Belsie 

After more than 1,100 complaints about the sudden loss of power steering in its compact cars, General Motors announced Tuesday it is preparing to recall 1.3 million vehicles.

The recalled models include the 2005-10 Chevy Cobalt, the 2007-10 Pontiac G5, the 2005-06 Pontiac Pursuit (sold in Canada), and the Pontiac Pursuit (sold in Mexico).

While the company prepares a remedy to replace a motor in the power-steering system, what should owners do?

If owners notice any problem with their power steering, GM recommends that they take their cars to their dealer to have the steering mechanism checked out.

The sudden loss of power-steering can occur at any time, according to Chevrolet customer assistance. "After our in-depth investigation, we found that this is a condition that takes time to develop," said Jamie Hresko, GM vice president of quality, in a release. "It tends to occur in older models out of warranty."

When the power steering goes out, a chime will sound and a "power steering" message will flash on the dashboard.

The vehicle can still be steered safely, GM says, although it will be harder to steer under 15 miles per hour.

But the loss of power steering has, on a few occasions, led to accidents. The problem has caused 14 crashes and one injury, according to GM.

Driver complaints filed to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggest a host of minor injuries because, on occasion, drivers found it hard to steer.

One 2005 Cobalt driver last year complained that the power steering would randomly shut off. The jolt was so severe that it caused a sprained wrist, the driver claimed.

Another 2005 Cobalt driver ran into a telphone pole while turning into his driveway after the power steering went out. "The wheel became extremely difficult to move," the driver wrote.

A third 2005 Cobalt driver ran into the median strip while turning off a highway after the power steering went out. "I would like to know how many people have to be seriously injured before this issue is resolved through a recall of the vehicles to correct the problem," the driver complained to NHTSA.

For more information, Chevy Cobalt owners can call Chevy's customer assistance at (800) 222-1020.