In apparent response to our request, General Motors announced today that it would recall 1.3 million vehicles that may experience sudden power steering loss.
We made the request on March 19 after NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica found a glaring anomaly while examining documents on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. NHTSA had already ordered a recall in March 2010 of Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s for the steering loss defect but three years later had not yet ordered a recall of Saturn Ions, which have the same power steering system. In my March 19 letter to GM CEO Mary Barra, I wrote, “We do not know why NHTSA has not already ordered a recall or whether politics enter into its decision-making process. It doesn’t matter. You have the authority to immediately recall these vehicles.”
The recall is even broader than we requested. We asked GM to recall 382,000 Saturn Ions. The recall announced today also includes the Chevy Malibu, Malibu Maxx, Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Aura and Pontiac G6, for a staggering total of 1.3 million vehicles. Although it includes many of the same vehicles, this recall is separate from the recalls for the ignition switch defect. As pointed out by Modica earlier today, the steering loss defect is far more expensive for GM to fix than the ignition switch problem, perhaps accounting for GM’s slowness in ordering a recall.
Our March 19 request generated coverage by the Associated Press and Automotive News. In the interim, we repeated our request several times, including in Modica’s website posting this morning titled “Congress Must Ask Barra Why GM Hasn’t recalled Saturn Ions With Power Steering Loss.”