General Motors Corp. announced Wednesday that it was recalling 1.9 million passenger cars because of a possible steering column problem.

The world's largest automaker wants to service 1995-97 Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire and 1996-97 Buick Skylark, Pontiac Grand Am and Oldsmobile Achieva cars in an effort to prevent high electrical current flow through the ignition switch that may cause a fire in the steering column.

There have been no reports of fires while the vehicles are driven, GM said. But in some cases — within minutes of an unsuccessful attempt to start the car — there have been some claims of smoke inhalation, the automaker said.

Some of the incidents occurred after the car had been unattended for a longer time.

"The ignition switch may deteriorate if the engine fails to crank and the driver holds the key in the 'start' position for an extended period," said Lori Queen, a GM small car vehicle line executive. "High current flows through the ignition switch and sometimes produces enough heat to melt internal switch parts."

GM has notified owners about the recall and the precautions they should take until their vehicles are repaired.

When they bring in their vehicles, Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac dealers will install a low current relay into the ignition circuit. The repairs will be performed at no cost to the customers.