Feds target Saturn Ion energy-steering troubles

Owners of Ions from the 2004-07 model many years allege that they seasoned sudden loss of electrical power-steering assistance, an concern that prompted GM to recall much more than 1 million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 sedans 4 years in the past.

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DETROIT — The Saturn Ion, a single of the autos covered by Basic Motors’ ignition-switch recall, also is the subject of a long-operating investigation by federal safety regulators into whether GM should have incorporated it in a 2010 recall for energy-steering failures.

Ion owners have filed at least 846 complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and about 3,500 reviews with GM, in accordance to NHTSA, which commenced searching into the problem in December 2010. Owners of Ions from the 2004-07 model years allege that they seasoned sudden loss of energy-steering support, an situation that prompted GM to recall a lot more than one million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 sedans 4 many years ago.

GM advised NHTSA that the Ion’s electrical power-steering method is identical to that in the Cobalt and G5, and NHTSA stated it replicated the difficulty in an Ion as properly as a Cobalt. But the company has not forced GM to situation a recall of the Ion.

“We are not able to understand the delay in recalling Saturn Ions, specifically in light of your recent statement that the ignition switch recall ‘took as well long,’” Peter Flaherty, president of the Nationwide Legal and Policy Center, wrote Wednesday in a letter that he sent to GM CEO Mary Barra and posted on the group’s Internet web site. “You also stated ‘terrible issues occurred.’ An fast recall of Saturn Ions will stop added ‘terrible things’ from taking place.”

NHTSA officials did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

GM, which this week announced 3 more recalls and stated it was taking a tougher appear at reports it has obtained about feasible defects, declined to comment about certain vehicles being evaluated.

“We are redoubling our efforts on pending product critiques to carry them forward and resolve them swiftly,” GM spokesman Jim Cain explained. “We can not sacrifice accuracy for velocity.”

If GM have been to recall the Ions, 382,000 autos would be included. It has obtained reviews of sixteen crashes and 2 injuries.

The electrical power-steering complaints are unrelated to the recall GM announced final month to substitute ignition switches in 1.6 million Cobalts, Ions and other automobiles.

When GM recalled the Cobalt and G5 in Might 2010, it explained a buildup of brush debris mixed with oily material could result in the energy-steering system’s motor to stop operating. The very same issue is described in Ion complaints, NHTSA explained.

NHTSA upgraded its investigation of the Ion to an engineering evaluation in September 2011 but explained it did not have ample proof to buy a recall.

Close to that time, GM stated it did not plan to recall the Ions but was offering their owners a guarantee covering the program for up to 10 many years or 100,000 miles.

You can attain Nick Bunkley at nbunkley@crain.com. — Follow Nick on

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