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NHTSA opens investigation into Cobalt steering failures

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NHTSA opens investigation into Cobalt steering failures

02/02/2010, 1:58 PMBY MARK KLEIS

A new investigation has been officially opened regarding the 2005 to 2009 Chevy Cobalt’s electric power steering system. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there have been 1,132 complaints filed claiming failure of the vehicle’s electric power steering system.

According to details from the recently opened NHTSA investigation, the majority of the complaints citing power steering assistance failure have come in the last six months. The review itself is taking a look at approximately 905,000 Cobalts, ranging from 2005 to 2009 models.

At this stage in the investigation there has been no suggestion as to the source of the failure, or details about which model years were most affected.

Some complaints cite loss of power steering resulting in the vehicle leaving its lane due to the added weight in the steering – with a total of eleven accidents and one injury accident being reported

link:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/nhtsa-opens-investigation-into-cobalt-steering-failures.html

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Granted, I understand that effort goes way up when you lose power assist... but your really bad off if you get in a car accident because of it.

The Cobalt is such a lightweight, if doesn't even need power steering... my '68 Catalina had broken power steering... and I still drove it fine... and built up lots of muscle!

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I don't understand. I realize there should be an investigation to see what the hubub is, but do people have to put all their might into turning the wheel when the power steering goes out on a highway? I've never had any issues with a non-power steering car on the road. Are people two-finger steering everywhere they go, or something?

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I don't understand. I realize there should be an investigation to see what the hubub is, but do people have to put all their might into turning the wheel when the power steering goes out on a highway? I've never had any issues with a non-power steering car on the road. Are people two-finger steering everywhere they go, or something?

LOL... yeah, knee steering while tweeting on their phone that the steering just went out!

On the hydraulic systems, a broken power unit was harder to turn than manual, since you had less mechanical avantage (manual cars had bigger steering wheels) and the assist parts added weight and drag on the system. But this is more a low speed problem... at speed, the turning of the wheels imparts a assist, of sorts... so I never had a problem driving a broken power system above 30 mph...

I can't say the same thing for the electric power steering... I would think that would just revert to manual, not to worse-than-manual... but I'd have to have someone else chime in who has experienced the failure.

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Mine had a rattle in it over, say, cobblestones or similar rough pavement. I never lost power assist. Dealer told me the replacement column assembly was a brand new part number when he ordered mine, which meant it was a newly-engineered part. No problems since then.

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On the hydraulic systems, a broken power unit was harder to turn than manual, since you had less mechanical avantage (manual cars had bigger steering wheels) and the assist parts added weight and drag on the system.

manual steering also usually has a different gear ratio, so the wheel has to be turned more lock-to-lock. On the Saturn S-Series, the steering wheel is turned about one full time on a coupe from straight to lock, while the manual rack you have to turn the wheel about two full times.

Still, at highway speeds this shouldn't cause much of a steering issue.

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I've had my power steering go out while idling, but never while driving. If it did, It's not exactly difficult to control a car without it. Someone needs to tell those people to drive a bottom rung Kia Rio.

Granted, if it occurred while in the middle of turning and you're busy munching a Big Mac... yeah, you might be screwed. :P

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GM has been proactive already on this. THey have taken the MFG of the column to court last Fall.

GM sues supplier over steering woes

Cobalt, other small cars from 2005 on are affected

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General Motors Corp.

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XCar Repair and Maintenance Tips By Ed White

Associated Press

1:44 p.m. CST, November 23, 2009

E-mail Print Share Text Size

DETROIT -- General Motors Co. has sued a supplier, saying it has spent more than $30 million fixing problems in the steering systems of the Chevrolet Cobalt, its best-selling small car, and other vehicles.

GM said customers have complained about unusual rattles, "clunks" and other noises. It pinpointed the flaw to "excessive gear backlash," which causes problems in the steering column under certain driving conditions.

The lawsuit names JTEKT North America Inc., based in Plymouth, Mich., and an affiliated company, JTEKT Automotive Virginia Inc. of Daleville, Va.

GM said it wants to be paid for replacing thousands of parts under customer warranty claims on the Cobalt, Pursuit, G5, HHR and other cars, starting with 2005 model year.

By fall, the cost had exceeded $30 million, and "GM's damages are expected to continue to increase as additional warranty claims are made," the automaker's lawsuit said.

"JTEKT contends the components all met the specifications and testing requirements that GM gave it," said Bob Haddad, a lawyer for the supplier. "The issues do not affect the operator's ability to control the vehicle. This is a noise issue."

Changes were made at GM's request, and JTEKT continues to provide steering assemblies, Haddad said Monday.

The steering systems are in tens of thousands of GM cars. Court papers do not indicate whether the company considers this a safety issue. A GM spokesman, Alan Adler, had no immediate comment.

The lawsuit was filed in August in Macomb County Circuit Court, amended there in October and moved Nov. 17 to federal court in Detroit.

The Cobalt is GM's best-selling small car and its highest-mileage vehicle. The company sold 90,940 Cobalts through October, but sales are down 46 percent from the same period in 2008.

The car, built in Lordstown, Ohio, is due to be replaced next year by the Chevrolet Cruze, which GM promises will get around 40 miles per gallon on the highway and be competitive with the best small cars in the world.

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