News Channel 5 in Cleveland has uncovered thousands of complaints about power steering problems involving 2004 to 2007 Saturn Ion vehicles. According to records obtained by reporters from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,150 complaints have been filed about the vehicle’s power steering system since 2004. Drivers have reported a “sudden loss of steering power,” which makes the wheel difficult to turn. Many complaints stated that the power steering loss happens suddenly and without warning. This steering defect has been blamed for 16 crashes and two injuries.
One of the complaints was filed by Kayla Braidic, who said she crashed into a car when her 2005 Saturn Ion suddenly lost its power steering. Although she tried hard to turn out of the way, she couldn’t, Braidic said. GM’s investigation of Braidic’s accident determined that the electric power steering motor was not to blame. According to federal investigators, a buildup of oil and debris in the electric power steering assist motor may have caused the motor to suddenly shut down.
General Motors in 2010 issued vehicle recalls for two vehicles with the same electric power steering system. The automaker recalled about 1 million Pontiac G5 and Chevy Cobalt vehicles to correct a defect with the power steering motor. So far, GM has not issued a recall for the Ion steering motor. Instead, all they did was send 2004 to 2007 Ion owners a letter telling them about the defect and offering to repair it free of charge. The letter also instructed owners to not take their vehicles to a GM dealer unless they believed that the vehicle was defective. NHTSA did open an investigation in 2010 and determined that the defect could result in some loss of control and a crash. The investigation, according to NHTSA, is still ongoing.
A Recall is Necessary
Safety advocates say GM does not care about Saturn owners any more because they no longer make the vehicle and don’t really need people to buy them. There is no question that the steering defect in question is a dangerous one. Anytime a driver suddenly loses power steering, there is the potential for a crash. Considering these facts, it is appalling that GM has not been forced to issue a recall. GM should be required to recall this vehicle and replace the electric power steering motor. Consumers’ safety is being unnecessarily compromised with these vehicles. It is only right that GM recalls these vehicles or be forced to pay the maximum penalty for failing to issue a timely recall and putting millions of lives in danger.