* Recall covers Chevy, Pontiac cars sold in N.America
* Drivers may be difficult to steer vehicles under 15 mph
* Steering issue linked to 14 crashes, one injury
* Recall follows NHTSA investigation launched in January
(Adds more GM exec comments, details)
DETROIT, March 2 General Motors Co [GM.UL] is
recalling 1.3 million compact cars in North America to address
a power steering problem that has been linked to 14 crashes and
one injury, the company said on Tuesday.
U.S. safety regulators opened an investigation on Jan. 27
into approximately 905,000 Cobalt models in the United States
after receiving more than 1,100 complaints of power steering
failures. The complaints included 14 crashes and one injury.
The recall covers the 2005-2010 model year Chevrolet Cobalt
and 2007-2010 Pontiac G5 in the United States; 2005-2006
Pontiac Pursuit sold in Canada, and the 2005-2006 Pontiac G4
sold in Mexico, GM said in a statement.
GM said it told the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration about the voluntary recall on Monday after
concluding its own investigation that began in 2009.
GM said the affected vehicles can be still be "safely
controlled" but it may require greater steering effort under 15
mph (24 kph). Drivers will see a warning light and hear a chime
if the power steering fails.
"After our in-depth investigation, we found that this is a
condition that takes time to develop. It tends to occur in
older models out of warranty," GM Vice President of Quality
Jamie Hresko said in the statement.
"Recalling these vehicles is the right thing to do for our
customers' peace of mind," he said.
GM said it is currently developing a remedy to fix the
problem and will notify customers when the plan is finalized.
The recall comes at a time of heighted public and
regulatory scrutiny over vehicle safety issues in the wake of
massive recalls by Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T).
Toyota global quality control chief Shinichi Sasaki and
North American President Yoshimi Inaba are scheduled to appear
before a Senate committee on Tuesday for a third hearing on its
handling of consumer complaints about sudden acceleration.
(Reporting by Soyoung Kim; Editing by Lincoln Feast)