General Motors Co. GM +0.90% added another 1.3 million vehicles Monday to its growing list of cars in dire need of repair.
The problem this time? Power steering.
According to the company, seven models made between 2004 and 2010 could “experience a sudden loss of electric power steering assist.” While that doesn’t mean the cars can no longer be steered, it does mean it would be physically harder for the driver to turn the steering wheel, especially at slow speeds. And the company warns that could increase the risk of a crash.
Among the cars being rounded up in this recall are the Chevrolet Malibu (all 2004 and 2005 model years, some 2006 and all 2008 and 2009 model years), Chevrolet Malibu Maxx (2004-2006), Chevrolet Cobalt (some 2010 models), Saturn Aura (some 2008 and 2009 models), Saturn ION (all 2004 through 2007 models), and the Pontiac G6 (all 2005, some 2006, and all 2008 and 2009 models).
“We have recalled some of these vehicles before for the same issue and offered extended warranties on others, but we did not do enough,” Jeff Boyer, GM’s newly-appointed Global Vehicle Safety vice president, said in a statement.
Including this latest recall, GM has called in nearly 4 million vehicles for repairs over the past two months, the biggest and most serious being the recall to replace faulty ignition switches that have been linked to 13 deaths.
The company said it now plans to take a charge of about $750 million against its first-quarter results to cover the cost of the recalls. That number includes $300 million set aside for the previously announced recalls.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be appearing twice this week before Congress — a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday and a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday — to explain why the company waited nearly a decade before acting to replace the ignition switches.
In addition to Barra, David Friedman, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will face the same hearings to explain why NHTSA didn’t spot troubles with the GM ignition systems and launch an investigation. If Friedman’s written testimony, filed in advance and dated April 1, is any indication of how things may go for GM, fingers are ready to point at the automaker.
“GM had critical information that would have helped identify this defect,” said Friedman, in that testimony.GM shares were last down 0.3% at $34.32 in after-hours trade, extending a 0.9% loss during the regular session. So far this year GM’s share price has fallen nearly 16%.
– Jim Jelter