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GM to Recall 1.3M Compacts for Steering Problem

DETROIT -- General Motors Co. said Monday it will recall 1.3 million Chevrolet and Pontiac compact cars sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to fix power steering motors that can fail.

The recall affects 2005 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalts, 2007 to 2010 Pontiac G5s, 2005 and 2006 Pontiac Pursuits sold in Canada, and 2005 and 2006 Pontiac G4s sold in Mexico.

The automaker said the vehicles are still safe to drive and never lose their steering, but it may be harder to steer them when traveling under 15 mph (24 kph).

GM spokesman Alan Adler said it will take time for the automaker to get 1.3 million new power steering motors from the supplier, JTEKT Corp., and GM will notify car owners when the parts are available.

Adler said the failures are rare and the cars can still be driven until motors can be replaced by dealers. Drivers will see a warning light and hear a chime if the power steering fails, but they could be surprised when the steering becomes more difficult.

GM told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the recall on Monday. NHTSA began an investigation into 905,000 of the models on Jan. 27 after getting 1,100 complaints that the cars lost their power steering assist. The complaints included 14 crashes and one injury.

The automaker will fix older models first because it usually takes 20,000 to 30,000 miles (32,000 to 48,000 kilometers) of driving for the condition to develop, Adler said. GM also will have to repair thousands of vehicles on dealer lots before they can be sold, he said.

"Recalling these vehicles is the right thing to do for our customers' peace of mind," Jamie Hresko, GM's vice president of quality, said in a statement.

Adler said if the power steering assist fails, it usually comes back for a time after the car is shut off and restarted.

The recall comes at a time of heightened interest in auto safety after sudden acceleration problems experienced in some Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles.

Toyota has had to recall 8.5 million vehicles worldwide to fix problems with sticky gas pedals, floor mats that can snag the gas pedal and cause unintended acceleration, and brake software problems with the Prius gas-electric hybrid.

Toyota executives have been summoned to testify before congressional committees investigating the company's actions and whether the NHTSA did enough to make sure the Toyotas are safe.