The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received up to 850 defects reports associated with Saturn Ion vehicle models manufactured between 2004 and 2007. The complainants allege that they experienced power steering failures and this has prompted the Federal Safety to launch investigations in a bid to establish the level of risk posed by this defect. General Motors (GM), who manufactured and sold these vehicles, have also received similar complaints from about 3,500 people. 16 of the complainants reported crashes, two of whom said they were injured in the incidents. GM has also registered 17,385 warranty claims in relation to the same defects. They stopped manufacturing the cars two years ago, but not before churning out approximately 384,000 Saturn Ion cars to the market.
The federal agency’s Office of Defect Investigations (ODI), reportedly probed similar problems with Pontiac G5 and Chevrolet Cobalt models from the same manufacturer. The cars in question were made between 2005 and 2010. The agency says that just like the Saturn Ion cars been investigated; the Pontiac G5 and Chevrolet Cobalt models defect was brought about by a combination of oil substance and particulate substances which were deposited in the EPS electric motor armature. This caused the motor to stop functioning. GM initially attempted to avoid a recall by insisting that the vehicles could still be controlled manually, however, the agency asserted that the flaws would increase chances of crashes. As a result, the agency ordered GM to recall about one million Pontiac G5 and Chevrolet Cobalt vehicles in March 2010.
In response to queries posed by the agency, GM spokes person, Alan Adler, indicated that although Saturn Ion power steering system was similar to that found in the G5 and Cobalt, the chances of failure was very low. He also mentioned that the company provides a100,000-mile or 10 year warranty on these models.. NHTSA, through their spokesman, Eric Bolton,, released a statement saying that they did not have sufficient proof of Saturn’s defects that would warrant its recall. Auto Insurance industry pundits are of the view that that crashes could have far reaching cost implications on motorists in terms of auto insurance premiums, body injuries and high cost of repairs. A likely scenario would be for the insurers to pass on claims originating from Saturn Ion car crashes to the manufacturers and absolve drivers of any wrong doing.
Michael E. Dortch
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