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Government investigating Saturn Ion steering issue

October 3, 2011

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DETROIT—The federal government is investigating the Saturn Ion midsize sedan after getting reports of a sudden loss of power steering.

The investigation, opened Thursday, focuses on Ions from the 2004 through 2007 model years. GM sold more than 382,000 Ions during that time.

GM has gotten 3,489 complaints about loss of power steering in those vehicles. Two crashes with injuries have been blamed on the alleged defect.

If power steering is lost, the cars revert to manual steering, which lets the driver steer but requires more effort.

Spokesman Alan Adler said GM has already told Ion owners it will repair their cars if they lose power steering or if they see a warning light. The repairs are free if the vehicle is within a 10-year, 120,000-mile warranty period.

GM recalled more than 1 million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 cars in 2010 because of a similar problem. In that case, a buildup of oil and debris caused the power assist motor to stop working.