General Motors announced on Monday that it’s recalling more than 1.3 million vehicles that may experience a sudden loss of electric power steering. GM’s new recall comes after 2.6 million vehicles were recalled earlier this year for ignition-switch problems linked to 13 deaths.
GM models involved in the new recall include Chevy Malibus, HHRs and Cobalts, Saturn Auras and IONs, as well as Pontiac G6s from model years 2004 to 2010. GM says it will replace the vehicles’ power-steering motors, steering columns, power-steering motor-control units or a combination of those free of charge, depending on the vehicle.
The 2004–07 Saturn ION, 2009–10 Chevrolet HHR and the 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt were also included in the earlier ignition-switch recall. Ignition switches on those vehicles and others were able to be jostled out of the “run” position by heavy key rings, shutting off engines, power brakes and steering while also disabling airbags.
GM has been criticized for its handling of the ignition-switch problem, which the company recently admitted it first learned about in 2001. A congressional subcommittee is holding a hearing on Tuesday regarding the ignition recall with GM CEO Mary Barra and the government’s chief auto-safety regulator, David Friedman. Friedman will argue GM had “critical information” that would have helped the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identify the ignition defect sooner, according to an advanced copy of his opening statement.
House members are also expected to ask why government investigators looking at GM-related data didn’t spot a safety-defect trend earlier. “NHTSA examined the available information multiple times using consumer complaints, early warning data, special crash investigations, manufacturer information about how air bags function and other tools, but did not find sufficient evidence of a possible safety-defect trend that would warrant opening a formal investigation,” Friedman is expected to say.
Barra will apologize on Tuesday to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured. She’ll also announce steps General Motors has made in reaction to the crisis, including appointing the first vice president for global vehicle safety.