The interior of the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx -- one of the latest vehicles recalled for power-steering problems. (General Motors)
Washington — General Motors Co. said Monday it is recalling nearly 1.51 million vehicles worldwide for power-steering problems and now will take a $750 million charge in the first quarter to pay for the growing number of vehicles it is calling back.
GM has now recalled nearly 7 million vehicles worldwide this year as it seeks to more aggressively respond to safety issues. GM’s recall related to the ignition-switch defects now totals 2.59 million cars.
In the new recall, the Detroit automaker says if power steering assist is lost, a driver can maintain control because the vehicle will revert to manual steering. But GM said that would require greater driver effort at low speeds, which could increase the risk of a crash. GM also said a message displays on the Driver Information Center and a chime sounds to inform the driver if power steering is lost.
GM spokesman Alan Adler said the automaker has reports of some crashes and injuries related to the problem, but no deaths.
The new recall includes:
■Chevrolet Malibu: All model-year 2004 and 2005, and some model-year 2006 and model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles
■Chevrolet Malibu Maxx: All model year 2004 and 2005, and some 2006 model year
■Chevrolet HHR (Non-Turbo): Some model year 2009 and 2010 vehicles
■Chevrolet Cobalt: Some model year 2010 vehicles
■Saturn Aura: Some model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles
■Saturn Ion: All model year 2004 to 2007 vehicles
■Pontiac G6: All model year 2005, and some model year 2006 and model year 2008 and 2009 vehicles
GM will replace at no charge either the power steering motor, steering column, power steering motor control unit or a combination of the steering column and power steering motor control unit, depending on the vehicle. Customers who already paid for repairs can receive reimbursement.
The automaker also will provide lifetime warranties on the electric power steering motor on more than 405,000 vehicles — 2003 model year Ions not being recalled and non-turbo 2006-08 HHRs and some 2009 HHRs not being recalled.
“With these safety recalls and lifetime warranties, we are going after every car that might have this problem, and we are going to make it right,” Jeff Boyer, vice president of GM global vehicle safety, said in a statement. “We have recalled some of these vehicles before for the same issue and offered extended warranties on others, but we did not do enough.”
GM says the 2004-07 Ion, the 2009-10 HHR and the 2010 Cobalt are included in previous recalls for ignition switches. The automaker said repairs for the ignition switch and power steering may require separate visits to the dealer depending on parts availability.
The latest recall came after the government has been investigating the issue for more than three years.
Last week, the National Legal and Policy Center said GM should recall the 2004-07 Ion for steering problems, expanding an earlier recall. The group argued that the same steering system was used in recalled Cobalts that were called back in 2010.
NHTSA has had an engineering analysis into the Ion since 2011 after receiving 846 complaints of power steering problems.
Both the Cobalt and Ion have been recalled for the unrelated ignition switch issue that causes the key to inadvertently turn off the engine and disable air bags.
In after-hours trading, GM’s stock was down a few cents, with traders already forecasting GM's costs on the recalls would be higher than $300 million GM had previously announced.