Millions of GM cars affected by power steering, ignition defects

2008 Pontiac G6 (GM photo)
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General Motors is recalling 1.5 million vehicles in the U.S. because the electronic power-steering assist can suddenly stop working.

Included in the recall are the Chevrolet Malibu, Malibu Maxx, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Aura, Saturn Ion and Pontiac G6. Model years vary, but all of the vehicles are from the 2010 model year or earlier.

More on the recall

The new recall brings to 6.3 million the number of vehicles GM has recalled since February. The initial recall - now at 2.6 million small cars for an ignition switch defect - prompted the automaker to name a new safety chief and speed up pending recalls.

Tiffany Porter drives one of the cars affected by the ignition switch recall, which has been tied to 13 deaths nationwide.

"It's scary. It's really scary. I travel the interstate," Porter said.

The 21-year-old college student should be scared. With no warning, her 2010 Chevy Cobalt quit twice, including once as she prepared to merge into speeding traffic on Interstate 70.

"I've never been so scared for something, actually. In that situation, all you can do is get over and do what you can and get over and hopefully somebody doesn't hit you," Porter said.

The faulty switch was installed on a variety of Chevy, Pontiac, and Saturn vehicles, beginning a decade ago. When the ignition turns itself to the off position, more than the engine quits. Drivers struggling for control have no power steering, no power anti-lock brakes and the vehicle's air bags are rendered inoperable. If there is an accident, drivers and passengers are left unprotected.

"In the business world, cash is king. They want to make their money, but you have to choose quality over quantity," Porter said. "Obviously, there is something wrong, so someone has to step up and take responsibility for something they've created."

The company expects recall-related costs to total $750 million in the first quarter.

In the latest recall, dealers will replace the power steering motor and other parts for free. Replacement parts should be available starting next week and the repair should take 3-4 hours. For those customers that don't feel safe driving before getting their car fixed, GM is providing rental or loaner cars for 13,000 affected motorists.

Ignition switch recall

In the meantime, one tip dealers are giving drivers having problem with their ignition switch is to lessen the load on their keychain. The extra weight is apparently causing the part to fail more frequently. They say driving with just the key for the car in the ignition should allow it to drive with no issues.